In conjunction with the federal vaccine mandate announced for employers with 100 employees or more, the Biden Administration has announced that employees of health care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The emergency regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is intended to protect health care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus from getting the virus themselves, while also providing assurances to individuals and their families receiving care.
According to CMS, “The prevalence of COVID-19, in particular the Delta variant, within health care settings increases the risk of unvaccinated staff contracting the virus and transmitting the virus to patients. When health care staff cannot work because of illness or exposure to COVID-19, the strain on the health care system becomes more severe and further limits patient access to safe and essential care. These requirements will apply to approximately 76,000 providers and cover over 17 million health care workers across the country. The regulation will create a consistent standard within Medicare and Medicaid while giving patients assurance of the vaccination status of those delivering care.”
As with the federal mandate, the regulation provides exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs and practices. Like many large employers, these health care facilities will need to create tracking mechanisms for collecting regular COVID-19 test results from unvaccinated employees.