Florida Health Care Association Chief Executive Officer Emmett Reed released a statement supporting President Biden’s Thursday announcement of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate expansion for all Medicare and Medicaid-certified health care settings.
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“We appreciate the Administration and CMS for listening to the concerns about a federal mandate that only applied to nursing home staff. A broadened vaccination policy will help protect our residents who often interact with other health care professionals for their care needs. We know the vaccine is the safest way to protect our residents, and we support efforts that will help get more people vaccinated.”
The Biden-Harris Administration, along with CMS, expanded the vaccine mandate that previously only applied to nursing home settings. Florida led the nation in new COVID cases among staff (40.3%) as of Aug. 12, while also having the second-lowest vaccination rates among these staff (45.1%), according to the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard.
The vaccine mandate expansion could also relieve some health leaders’ concerns over potential workforce shortages. Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), warned that only imposing a vaccine mandate in one health care setting, such as nursing homes, would cause workers to “flee” to other facilities and exacerbate the workforce shortage. The AARP Dashboard reported 17.8% of Florida nursing homes were experiencing staffing shortages as of Aug. 12.
Florida Medicare and Medicaid entities can expect more federal requirements in the future. CMS aims to release an Interim Final Rule and Comment Period in October, and urges facilities to “support employee vaccinations, including employee education and clinics, as they work to meet new federal requirements.”