On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a six-pronged, comprehensive plan to combat COVID-19 and its variants. One prong of that plan includes expanding vaccination requirements for Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities. This requirement is expected to apply to approximately 50,000 healthcare providers and cover a majority of healthcare workers across the country.
What Is the New Requirement?
To combat the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is using its authority to expand the emergency regulations that require vaccinations for nursing home workers to encompass more healthcare providers and suppliers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid. As a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, CMS will require that staff of all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities be vaccinated.
Who Is Included?
The new vaccination requirement will apply to all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities. CMS indicated the Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities will include the following providers:
- Hospitals (acute care, critical access hospitals, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities),
- Outpatient Facilities (ambulatory surgical centers, comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities, federally qualified health centers, and rural health clinics),
- Long-Term Care Facilities & Skilled Nursing Facilities,
- Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers
- Home Health Agencies,
- Clinical Labs, and
At this time, it is uncertain whether physician practices would fall under the new vaccination mandate.
Based on communications from the White House, we anticipate staff who must be vaccinated will include, but not be limited to, clinical staff; individuals providing services under arrangements; volunteers; and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care.
When Will It Take Effect?
CMS is developing an Interim Final Rule with a comment period and plans to issue the proposed rule in October 2021. CMS is encouraging all certified Medicare and Medicaid facilities to begin complying with these expected regulations by urging workers who are not currently vaccinated to get vaccinated immediately. Healthcare facilities are encouraged to use all available resources, including employee education and clinics, to meet the new federal requirements.