CMS Vaccine Mandate: What It Means for Your Facilities

The Biden-Harris Administration earlier this month published the emergency regulation which requires eligible staff at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. At this time, boosters are not required under the emergency regulation.

The rule requires that facilities meet the following within the first 30 days.

  1. You must have a process or plan for vaccinating all eligible staff
  2. You must have a process or plan for providing exemptions and accommodations for those who are exempt
  3. You must have a process or plan for tracking and documenting staff vaccination

The mandate, which was initially specified to nursing homes, was later expanded to include all Medicare and Medicaid-certified health care settings, including hospitals, home health, and dialysis centers. All told, more than 17 million health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and other health care settings will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. It was clarified in a CMS webinar today that the mandate only covers facilities that are regulated by the Conditions of Participation, Conditions for Coverage, or Requirements of Participation and that the requirements do not apply to assisted living facilities, group homes, or home and community-based services.

This vaccination requirement applies to all eligible staff, both current and new, regardless of clinical responsibility or patient contact, including:

  • Facility employees
  • Licensed practitioners
  • Students
  • Trainees
  • Volunteers
  • Contracted Staff

Facilities covered by this regulation must establish a policy ensuring all eligible staff have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to providing any care, treatment, or other services by December 6, 2021. All eligible staff must have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – by January 4, 2022. The regulation also provides for exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances, or practices. Facilities must develop a similar process or plan for permitting exemptions in alignment with federal law.

Last week, CMS hosted a webinar on the COVID-19 Omnibus Vaccine Rule (IFC-6) and has posted the presentation slides and a recording of the stakeholder call for your convenience.

To view the slides, please click HERE. To view the video, please click HERE.

In addition to the resources above, CMS has prepared a frequently asked questions document, available HERE.

CMS will ensure compliance with these requirements through established survey and enforcement processes. If a provider or supplier does not meet the requirements, it will be cited by a surveyor as being non-compliant and have an opportunity to return to compliance before additional actions occur.

CMS makes clear that the IFR issued today does not apply to assisted living.

These CMS rule preempts any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing.

Please do not hesitate to contact Rick Abrams at rick@whcawical.org if we can be of assistance in any way and/or answer any questions that you may have.

Posted in COVID-19