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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is developing an emergency regulation requiring staff vaccinations within the nation’s more than 15,000 Medicare and Medicaid-participating nursing homes.
The new requirement essentially means that the Biden Administration will now require nursing home staff members to receive vaccination against COVID-19. Over the past several months, millions of vaccinations have been administered to nursing home residents and staff, and these vaccines have shown to help prevent COVID-19. They’ve also proven to be effective against the Delta variant.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT?
In making the announcement, CMS cited its authority in establishing requirements that ensure health and safety among both providers and suppliers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
According to the agency’s internal data, about 62% of nursing home staff are currently vaccinated as of August 8 nationally, and vaccination among staff at the state level ranges from a high of 88% to a low of 44%.
The emergence of the Delta variant in the U.S. has driven a rise in cases among nursing home residents from a low of 319 cases on June 27, to 2,696 cases on August 8, with many of the recent outbreaks occurring in facilities located in areas of the country with the lowest staff vaccination rates.
In May, the Agency issued new regulations that require Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs/IID) to educate residents, clients and staff about COVID-19 vaccination and, when available, offer a COVID-19 vaccine to these individuals. These regulations also mandate that LTC facilities report weekly COVID-19 vaccination data for residents and staff to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).
CMS said it will continue to analyze NHSN vaccination data for residents and staff as an additional method of compliance monitoring, as well as deploy the Quality Improvement Organizations – operated under the Medicare Quality Improvement Program – to educate and engage nursing homes with low rates of vaccinations.
The agency will undergo the necessary steps in the rule-making process over the course of the next several weeks, and expects to issue the new rules in September. CMS also expects nursing home operators to use all available resources to support employees in getting vaccinated, including employee education and vaccination clinics, as they work to meet the staff vaccination requirement.
THE LARGER TREND
As of Monday, there were 212,251,510 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the world, including more than 37.8 million in the U.S., which leads the world. The U.S. also leads the world in virus-related deaths, with 628,984, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker.
India is second in the world in terms of cases, with more than 32.4 million, while Brazil comes in third at roughly 20 million. Brazil has recorded the second-highest number of deaths, at more than 574,000, while India has the third-highest death rate, with more than 434,000.