September 13, 2021
On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced the COVID-19 Action Plan: “Path Out of the Pandemic.” The Plan includes COVID-19 vaccination mandates for the staff of certain healthcare facilities, all federal employees and contractors, and the employees of large private employers.
The Plan provides that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all staff working in healthcare facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid. CMS announced that a forthcoming rule, expected to be issued in October 2021, will mandate COVID-19 vaccination for staff in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies as a condition for participating in Medicare or Medicare. The requirement will apply to all staff and will not be limited to those involved directly in patient care.
CMS previously issued rules requiring long term and intermediate care facilities educate residents and staff about vaccines, offer a COVID-19 vaccine when available, and report the vaccination status of clients and staff on a weekly basis to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). CMS expects to utilize data from the NHSN as one method to monitor compliance with the new requirements. CMS is advising healthcare workers who are not currently vaccinated to begin the process immediately and is directing facilities to use all available resources to support employee vaccinations.
Private Employers, Federal Employees and Contractors
President Biden signed an Executive Order issuing directives to each federal agency to implement a program requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all federal employees and contractors. For private employers, the Plan provides that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure all employees are vaccinated. The ETS will require any workers who remain unvaccinated to be tested at least weekly and could subject private employers to potential fines of up to $14,000 for each violation.