On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated COVID-19 vaccination education, uptake, and reporting policies for Medicaid and Medicare Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities serving people with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF-IID).
The interim final rule with comment period (IFC) revises the infection control standards the facilities must meet to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. In part, the rule requires facilities to educate residents, clients, and staff about the COVID-19 vaccine and to offer shots when supplies are available. This aligns with existing nursing home rules for influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.
It also directs LTC facilities to submit weekly reports on resident and staff vaccination status to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This builds on current COVID-19 reporting protocols, under which LTC facilities must submit information on testing, cases, and mortality. The facility-specific vaccination data will be publicly available. CMS plans to use it to monitor vaccination rates and identify facilities that may need additional support.
In announcing the revisions, CMS Chief Medical Officer Lee Fleisher, M.D., noted, “These new requirements reinforce CMS’ commitment of ensuring equitable vaccine access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries … Today’s announcement directly aids nursing home residents and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Our goal is to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and acceptance among these individuals and the staff who serve them.”
The IFC is effective as of May 21, and non-complying facilities will face fines.
While the IFR is specific to LTC facilities and ICFs-IID, CMS seeks comments on whether the policies should be expanded to other congregate settings, like psychiatric residential treatment facilities, group homes, and assisted living facilities. Comments are due July 12, and we will share ours once they are submitted.
As it becomes available, facility-specific vaccination status information will be available on CMS’ COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
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