COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Update

On November 5th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the Interim Final Rule (IFR) requiring Skilled Nursing Facilities, Nursing Facilities, and ICF-IIDs to establish a policy ensuring that all eligible staff be vaccinated for COVID-10 or request a medical or religious exemption.

The implementation dates for this rule are as follows: 
  • Phase 1 – December 6, 2021: Staff must have received at least the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Phase 2 – January  , 2022: Staff must be fully vaccinated, except staff who have been granted exemptions, or those whom COVID-19 vaccination must be temporarily delayed as recommended by the CDC due to clinical precautions and considerations. 
Maine long term care providers will likely already be in compliance with many, if not all, of these federal requirements due to Maine's vaccine mandate.

Who does it apply to?

The CMS rule applies to Medicare and Medicaid certified facilities, such as nursing homes, hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings and home health agencies. CMS clarified the rule (federal mandate) does not apply to assisted living.

However, in Maine the vaccine requirement applies to all designated health care facilities: including licensed nursing facilities, residential care facility, ICD-IDD facilities, multi-level facilities, hospitals and home health agencies subject to licensure by the State of Maine, Department of Health and Human Services Division of Licensing and Certification.
There have been lawsuits filed in several districts challenging CMS' authority and specifically the pathway for how the interim final rule was implemented. MHCA will update members as appropriate.

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