Viewpoint: CMS vaccination requirement may do more harm than good 

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The vaccination mandate imposed by CMS may serve to worsen patient outcomes and place serious stress on hospitals and health systems, former CMS Administrator Seema Verma wrote for The Wall Street Journal Dec. 1.

The CMS vaccination mandate requires that all eligible staff participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs get vaccinated, affecting more than 17 million people and 76,000 healthcare providers.

The former CMS administrator under the Trump administration wrote that the mandate "will undoubtedly create patient safety and quality concerns, violating the purpose of the agency’s regulatory authority."

She argued that the ruling may force resignations or terminations of scores of unvaccinated workers, exacerbating staffing shortages. This in turn may affect patient safety, as the healthcare workers who are left will be forced to work longer hours. This may also create a downward spiral of further resignations due to burnout and stress, she wrote.

Ms. Verma argued that there should be more time for healthcare workers to get vaccinated and CMS should make exceptions for understaffed, rural communities that may suffer the most from vaccination-related resignations. She suggests implementation plans, increased vaccine incentives and removal of unvaccinated staff from patient-facing roles instead of suspension. 

She wrote in the Journal, "Local healthcare providers need the flexibility to implement those approaches, not a Washington-knows-best, one-size-fits-all nationwide rule."

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