Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued emergency regulations requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all nursing home workers. On Sept. 9, 2021, CMS and CDC announced an expansion to these emergency regulations that will require vaccination of staff at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified healthcare facilities, including hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings and home health agencies. Once the emergency regulations take effect, healthcare facilities must require their healthcare staff to be vaccinated in order for the facility to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
The details of the expanded vaccination requirements for healthcare facility staff are still unknown, but CMS has announced that it will publish an Interim Final Rule sometime in October 2021 that will be followed by a public comment period. Although the final requirements under the emergency regulations are not known and not yet in force, CMS has taken a firm position on the matter and is strongly encouraging unvaccinated healthcare workers in affected facilities to begin the vaccination process immediately.