Certain Healthcare Employers receiving Medicare/Medicaid Funds
November 5, 2021
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On September 9, 2021, as part of its Path Out of the Pandemic Action Plan (Action Plan), the White House announced a healthcare vaccine mandate for workers in most healthcare settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. On November 5, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published an interim final rule defining the vaccine requirements for healthcare workers.
Who Does it Apply to?
The interim final rule applies to workers in most healthcare settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including but not limited to hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies. The vaccine requirement applies to all employees of covered facilities, including, but not limited to, nursing home staff, hospital and clinical staff, individuals providing services under arrangements, students, trainees, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care. It does not apply to staff who exclusively provide telehealth or telemedicine services outside of the facility setting and who do not have any direct contact with patients and other staff, or staff who provide support services that are performed exclusively outside of the facility setting and who do not have any direct contact with patients and other staff.
What Are the Requirements?
As of December 5, 2021, covered employees must have received least the first dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to providing any care, treatment, or other services for the covered employer and/or its patients. As of January 4, 2022, covered employees must be fully vaccinated.
- Employers must require covered staff to be fully vaccinated (i.e., two weeks following all primary vaccine dose(s)), subject to limited exemption, and have procedures in place to effectuate the requirement. There must also be contingency plans for staff who are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
- Implement safety procedures to mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission for those who are not fully vaccinated.
- Track and document covered staff vaccination status, including any booster vaccines. Track and document reasonable accommodation processes for those requesting an exemption. Medical exemption requests must be signed and dated by a licensed healthcare provider.
Exceptions are made for those who have pending requests for, or who have been granted, exemptions, or those staff for whom COVID-19 vaccination must be temporarily delayed, as recommended by the CDC, due to clinical precautions and considerations. Additionally, employers must follow the EEOC’s guidelines for reasonable accommodations based on medical, disability, or religious reasons. The interim rule directs employers to the EEOC’s Compliance Manual on Religious Discrimination for information on evaluating and responding to requests for religious exemption.
Other Important Information
The interim rule does not require paid time off to get vaccinated. Where the interim final rule does not cover certain employees or has gaps in requirements, OSHA’s large employer emergency temporary standard or other state/local rules may apply. There is a 60-day comment period on the interim final rule; continue to look for updates on this rule.
- Review the interim final rule here.
- Implement a mandatory vaccine policy and corresponding procedures.
- Have appropriate personnel trained on the new requirements.
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Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.
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