Nursing Homes Warn Vaccine Mandate Could Lead to Staff Shortages
To protect one of the groups most at risk for COVID-19, the Biden administration is drafting new policy requiring vaccination for anyone working at a nursing home or long-term care facility. Although residents have achieved a nationwide vaccination rate of almost 84%, outbreaks largely driven by unvaccinated staff have continued. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that only about 62% of these employees are fully or partially vaccinated, but the new rule expected out of Washington would not give them a choice in the matter. With non-compliant facilities under the threat of losing the Medicare and Medicaid funding they strongly depend on, some believe meaningful vaccination rates are possible among staffers. Others, including the American Health Care Association, worry the mandate could backfire. "If a significant portion of the approximately 38% of unvaccinated nursing home staff leave, the net impact will be worse care for the residents," the organization's CEO, Mark Parkinson, warned in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. He argued that the only way to avert such a trend is to expand the vaccine requirement to include all workers in any Medicare- and Medicaid-certified health facility, not just nursing homes.
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