AHA to CMS: Ensure COVID-19 vaccine mandate is 'feasible,' 'fair'

The American Hospital Association in a Sept. 27 letter outlined recommendations for how CMS should ensure the implementation of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all workers in Medicare and Medicaid-participating healthcare facilities is "feasible" and "fair." 

The AHA said it supports hospitals and health systems that have chosen to implement their own vaccination mandate.

"In fact, as of the date of this letter, 2,549 hospitals and health systems have publicly announced their own mandatory vaccination policies," the AHA's letter said. "However, these mandate decisions were informed by hospitals' evaluation of the local circumstances in their own facilities and communities. Many hospitals believed it was the right time to implement a vaccine mandate, but others have continued to work diligently with their unvaccinated colleagues to convince them to take the vaccine voluntarily." 

To ensure the national rule is "feasible, transparent and fair for all healthcare providers that are subject to it," the agency should release clear guidance on how hospitals can ensure compliance, the AHA said.

The letter also called for more information on how enforcement will work and for CMS to ensure its policy incorporates safeguards so that access to care isn't affected, such as allowing hospitals sufficient time for compliance.  

CMS announced Sept. 9 it would require more than 17 million healthcare workers at Medicare-and Medicaid-participating hospitals and other healthcare settings. The mandate, which also applies to dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings and home health agencies, expands on an Aug. 18 announcement that nursing homes must have their staff vaccinated in order to continue receiving federal funds. 

The agency plans to issue its interim final rule regarding the mandate in October. 

 

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