CMS Releases Surveyor Guidance on LTC Vaccine Mandate

On Tuesday December 28, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued surveyor guidance on assessing long-term care facilities' compliance with a federal mandate for healthcare worker COVID-19 vaccinations.

The guidance only applies in 25 states where a federal judge earlier this month lifted a temporary injunction that had blocked the Nov. 5 vaccination rule from taking effect. The following jurisdictions are not covered by any court-ordered injunctions: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. Meaning this memo is relevant to Maine providers.

In this
Dec. 28 memo, CMS said surveyors would begin enforcement within 30 days. Among key details: Any facility with a staff vaccination rate at that time above 80% with a specific plan to achieve a 100% rate within 60 days would not be subject to additional enforcement action. At the 60-day mark, a facility above 90% with a plan to achieve a 100% staff vaccination rate within an additional 30 days would not be subject to additional enforcement action.

CMS said facilities would be considered compliant if policies and procedures are developed and implemented for ensuring all staff are vaccinated for COVID-19; and 100% of staff have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or have a pending request for, or have been granted qualifying exemption, or identified as having a temporary delay as recommended by the CDC.

The agency said anything less than at least one shot for 100% of staff (not counting a pending or granted exemption or CDC-recommended temporary delay) would count as non-compliant. Those facilities will receive notice of their non-compliance with the 100% standard, but CMS said those in the 80% to 99% range would receive some relief if they continued to pursue vaccination plans.

Staff Contact: