Kansas won't enforce CMS vaccination mandate

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said state surveyors will not enforce the CMS COVID-19 vaccination mandate covering healthcare facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The governor made the announcement March 29 after informing federal officials that the state would not evaluate a provider's or supplier's compliance with the federal vaccination requirements implemented in the CMS rule.

Ms. Kelly said CMS confirmed that the agency will work with Kansas facilities on mandate compliance, and that she has directed staff and agencies to work with CMS, according to CBS affiliate WIBW.

"I've consistently opposed federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements because the responsibility was given to the states to make these decisions," Ms. Kelly said in a statement cited by the Capital-Journal. "Kansas employees should not be required to enforce a federal mandate this late in the pandemic.

"In addition, mandates like this could further intensify the workforce shortage we are experiencing in our healthcare facilities throughout the state. CMS leadership has assured me they're working with facilities and will not take punitive measures," the statement continued.

A March 18 CMS letter to the governor's office, which was shared with Becker's, said the agency will take various steps "to ensure the health and safety of patients receiving care in [Kansas] facilities that are required to comply with these and all applicable federal rules."

CMS said this includes communicating to providers that demonstration of compliance with the vaccination rule will be necessary.

The agency told the governor's office it will reduce the state's survey and certification funding allocation in upcoming funding distributions by $348,723 for fiscal year 2022 "to implement supplemental federal processes to ensure provider compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine rules. CMS reserves the right to adjust this amount in future years based on changes to the state's determination on this matter."

The CMS mandate is effective nationwide.

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