CMS curtailing frequency of vaccination mandate compliance surveys

Oversight of the COVID-19 vaccination mandate covering healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid will no longer be part of all CMS surveys.

The agency, in a memo sent to state survey agency directors June 14, said compliance reviews of the staff vaccination requirement for Medicare and Medicaid certified providers and suppliers will still be performed during initial and recertification surveys, but will now be performed only if there are allegations of noncompliance with the staff vaccination requirement.

Previously, all surveys included oversight of the mandate. But the agency said the reduction in frequency "is in keeping with the normal process for oversight of any Medicare requirement and is supported by the high rates of compliance in initial surveys."

CMS said state survey agencies may still expand a survey to include the requirement compliance for non-deemed providers and suppliers and those deemed by accrediting organizations with CMS-approved programs (with authorization from the appropriate CMS location).

The mandate, which the Supreme Court upheld Jan. 13, has been in effect in all states since Feb. 20. It requires healthcare facilities to establish a policy ensuring eligible workers are fully vaccinated, with exemptions allowed based on religious beliefs or recognized medical conditions. As of June 14, nearly 12,000 providers and suppliers had been surveyed for compliance with the requirement, and 95 percent of those providers and suppliers were found to be in substantial compliance with the requirement, CMS said.

The agency also announced it is revising "to ensure deficiency determinations reflect good faith efforts implemented by providers and suppliers and incorporate harm or potential harm to patients and residents resulting from any noncompliance."

To read the full memo, click here.

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