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AHCA, NCAL Release Statement on Vaccine Mandate Injunction <p>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) have released the following statement regarding the United States District Court in the Western District of Louisiana issuing a nationwide injunction on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. <br></p><p>The statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and chief executive officer. <br></p><p>“We appreciate the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Louisiana issuing this injunction. We have always supported vaccinating as many residents and staff as possible. However, we are deeply concerned that the current mandate issued by CMS will cause nursing homes to lose staff at a time when we are already grappling with a historic labor crisis,” Parkinson said.</p><p>“We continue to urge CMS to allow a regular testing option for unvaccinated staff and, therefore, support any legal remedy or CMS action that would bring about this solution.” <br></p><p>There are currently four active cases regarding the CMS interim final rule staff vaccine mandate&#58; the Louisiana litigation, which was filed by a 14-state group, the Missouri litigation filed by 10 states, and individual cases filed by the states of Florida and Texas. Florida’s request for a preliminary injunction was denied by the District Court last week and is being appealed. A hearing in the Texas case is scheduled for Dec. 2.</p><p>While the interim final rule is, as of Dec. 1, prevented in all states from going into effect, Medicare providers should continue to prepare to have policies and procedures ready so that if the government’s arguments prevail, they can be quickly implemented, AHCA/NCAL said. As employers, providers should consider what policy they want to have in place until a government mandate requires it, which is not certain, the association said.<br></p>2021-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0220_News1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;PolicyJoanne EricksonAssociation supports vaccination for nursing homes, but fears critical loss of staff members under current mandate.
Unfunded Nursing Home Mandates in 'Build Back Better Act' Will Worsen Historic Staffing Crisis<p>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said that two provisions in the <a href="https&#58;//rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/Section_by_Section_BBB_RCP117-18_.pdf">Build Back Better Act</a> (HR 5376) will have a devastating impact on nursing homes and could force thousands more facilities to further limit admissions or possibly close their doors.</p><p>The provisions, one that would require nursing homes to have a registered nurse (RN) on-staff 24 hours a day and another that would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study on minimum staffing ratios and implement the regulations within one year, are unfunded mandates that, conservatively, would cost the nursing homes industry billions of dollars a year and require hiring more than 150,000 new caregivers.</p><p>“We strongly support having an RN on staff in nursing homes 24 hours a day, as we originally proposed in our <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Advocacy/Documents/24-Hour-RN.pdf">reform agenda </a>earlier this year. However, <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Advocacy/Documents/24-Hour-RN.pdf">current data</a> show that nursing homes are facing the worst job loss among all health care providers. We’ve lost 221,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, and recovery is a long way away,” said AHCA/NCAL President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Parkinson.</p><p>“Nursing home providers are doing all they can to attract and retain new workers, but the applicants simply aren’t there. The provisions in this bill do nothing to help us strengthen our workforce and will only force thousands of nursing homes to further limit the number of residents they can serve,” he said.</p><p>AHCA/NCAL estimates that if the HHS study found that nursing homes need to increase clinical and direct care staff by 25 percent, it would require hiring more than 150,000 RNs, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and certified nurse assistants (CNAs), costing $10.7 billion per year.</p><p>Current requirements mandate that nursing homes have an RN on staff eight hours a day. Under the proposed mandate in the legislation, AHCA/NCAL estimates it would require hiring 21,000 more nurses, costing $2.5 billion a year.</p><p>Phil Fogg, president and CEO of Marquis Companies, who operates more than 20 long term care facilities in California, Nevada, and Oregon, said if Congress enacts these provisions without the necessary resources and recruitment programs, it could have a devastating impact on nursing homes and the residents they serve across the country.</p><p>“The workforce and economic crisis long term care providers are already experiencing is unprecedented. Lack of qualified workers is forcing providers to limit their admissions and, in some cases, close their doors permanently. Providers simply cannot attract more caregivers to our profession and meet the requirements of these mandates without financial support from Congress,” said Fogg, who is also the chair of the AHCA Board of Governors.</p><p>&quot;We all share a common goal, and that is to strengthen our workforce and provide the best possible care for our residents,” said Len Russ, operator and administrator of Bayberry Care Center in New Rochelle, N.Y. “But these unfunded mandates could further exacerbate the challenges we face and ultimately limit access to care for millions. </p><p>“We are eager to work hand-in-hand with lawmakers to find meaningful solutions that will ensure seniors continue to receive the highest quality care and caregivers have access to good-paying, rewarding jobs.&quot;<br></p>2021-11-17T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/capitol_blue_skies_flag.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Policy;WorkforceJoanne EricksonBill could force thousands of struggling nursing homes to further limit access to care to millions of seniors.
CMS, OSHA Release New Vaccine Mandate Details<p>On Nov. 4, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published an interim final rule (IFR), with comment period, that revises the requirements that most Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Biden Administration is <a href="https&#58;//www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-issues-emergency-regulation-requiring-covid-19-vaccination-health-care?cm_ven=ExactTarget&amp;cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23219&amp;cm_pla=All+Subscribers&amp;cm_ite=requiring&amp;cm_lm=1149416120&amp;cm_ainfo=&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;">requiring </a>covered health care workers to be vaccinated through this IFR. The requirements will be phased in via two phases. </p><p>•&#160;Phase I - Effective Dec. 5, 2021 - Skilled Nursing Facilities, Nursing Facilities, and ICF-IIDs (CMS notes that this does not apply to assisted living providers) must establish a policy ensuring that all eligible staff have received by Dec. 5, 2021, 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, or have requested or been granted an exemption.</p><p>•&#160;Phase II - Effective Jan. 4, 2022 - Requires that primary vaccination series has been completed and that staff are fully vaccinated, except staff who have been granted exemptions, or those whom COVID-19 vaccination must be temporarily delayed as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to clinical precautions and considerations.</p><p>Staff who have completed the primary series for the vaccine by Jan. 4, 2022, are considered to have met the requirements, even if they have not yet completed the 14-day waiting period required for full vaccination.</p><p>CMS makes clear that the IFR issued today does not apply to assisted living. </p><p>The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its vaccine requirement for employers with more than 100 employees (corporation-wide). It appears that this also does not apply to assisted living providers.</p><p>OSHA specifically excludes the health care employers covered by this past summer’s <a href="https&#58;//www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets?cm_ven=ExactTarget&amp;cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23219&amp;cm_pla=All+Subscribers&amp;cm_ite=emergency+temporary+standards&amp;cm_lm=1149416120&amp;cm_ainfo=&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;">emergency temporary standards </a>(ETS), which did cover assisted living settings. It is likely that assisted living was unintentionally left out and the language will probably be changed at some point in the future to cover the health care settings not included in the CMS IFR.</p><p>Additionally, the Nov. 4 OSHA ETS do not apply to the SNF, NF, and ICF-IID providers that are covered under the CMS rule above. </p><p>Highlights of the OSHA ETS include&#58;</p><p>•&#160;By Jan. 4, 2022, employers must ensure that their employees have completed their primary series of vaccination. <br>o&#160;If employees have not completed their primary series at that time, they will need to provide a verified weekly test to their employees. If employee test positive on a COVID-19 test, they must be removed from the workplace until it is safe for them to return. <br>o&#160;Employers are not required to cover the cost of this weekly testing. <br>o&#160;Those employees who are not vaccinated will also be required to wear a mask while in the workplace. </p><p>•&#160;By Dec. 5, 2021, employers must provide employees paid time to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects. </p><p>•&#160;Employers are required to obtain proof of vaccination and maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status. </p><p>These CMS and OSHA rules preempt any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing.</p><p>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living issued <a href="/Breaking-News/Pages/AHCA,-NCAL-Issue-Statements-on-Release-of-CMS,-OSHA-Regulations-on-Vaccination-Rules,-Schedule-Member-Webinar.aspx">statements </a>on the two rules upon their release. The association is offering a <a href="https&#58;//media01.commpartners.com/AHCA/ahca_110521/index.html">webinar </a>for member providers on Friday, Nov. 5, at 1&#58;30 p.m. Eastern, to provide an overview of the new policies.<br></p>2021-11-05T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0520_news4.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Policy;COVID-19Joanne EricksonInterim rule sets timeline, particulars for health care worker vaccination requirements.
Association Reacts to Biden Administration Call for Vaccine Mandates in Health Care Settings<p>Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) made the following statement today regarding the Biden administration’s announcement requiring all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified health care settings, as well as larger businesses, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.</p><p>“We applaud President Biden for expanding COVID-19 vaccination requirements to all Medicare and Medicaid-certified health care settings, as well as larger businesses. This will help prevent unvaccinated nursing home staff from looking for new lines of work, alleviating some of the staffing challenges too many long term care facilities are currently facing. </p><p>“Nearly 4,000 providers expressed their concerns about a federal mandate only for nursing home staff, and we appreciate the administration listening to those concerns and applying this policy more broadly.<br>&#160;<br>“This vaccine policy will also help protect our nation’s most vulnerable, who often interact with a variety of health care professionals on a regular basis. We support the administration’s efforts to get more people vaccinated, and we look forward to working with them on finding additional solutions that will help us address this unprecedented situation.&quot;​</p>2021-09-09T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0520_news3.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Policy;COVID-19Joanne EricksonThe policy may help slow unvaccinated staff from seeking other lines of work, Parkinson said.