CMS hits pause on federal vaccine mandate enforcement

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a QSO memo advising state survey agencies they should not enforce the Interim Final Rule (IFR) regarding the vaccine mandate or requirements for policies and procedures in certified Medicare/Medicaid providers and suppliers while there are court-ordered injunctions in place pending additional clarity from the courts. This includes nursing facilities, hospitals, dialysis facilities, and all other provider types covered by the rule. The agency notes health care facilities, of course, may voluntarily choose to comply with the IFR.
The government has appealed the preliminary injunctions, and with the ongoing litigation, the Court-ordered injunctions could be reversed at any time. AHCA/NCAL
recommends members continue to encourage staff to get COVID-19 vaccines and prepare for a vaccine mandate so that if the government's arguments prevail, policies and procedures can be quickly implemented. AHCA/NCAL will provide additional details as soon as anything changes.
In addition, nursing homes are still required to meet the demands of the May 2021 IFR on
educating and offering the COVID-19 vaccine to staff and residents, which includes tracking vaccination status of all staff.  
The Association recognizes the importance of COVID-19 vaccines in reducing outbreaks and saving lives and encourages providers to continue to schedule booster clinics to protect residents and staff. Members can find free resources on encouraging uptake on AHCA/NCAL's #getvaccinated website.
A recording of yesterday's Office Hours on the Vaccine Mandate hosted by AHCA/NCAL will be available soon. Additionally, a recording of the Association's
webinar on religious and medical exemptions is now available.

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