Biden Administration Will Require Nursing Homes to Vaccinate Staff or Lose Federal Funding

In response to rising COVID-19 cases across the country because of the Delta variant, President Joe Biden’s administration will require nursing homes to vaccinate their staff to avoid losing Medicare and Medicaid funding.

“I’m using the power of the federal government as a payer of healthcare costs to ensure we reduce those risks to our most vulnerable seniors,” President Biden said.

Nursing homes can’t afford to lose Medicare and Medicaid funding. The two programs comprise about 80% to 85% of nursing home operators’ revenue, according to David Grabowski, PhD, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. Medicaid is the primary source of funding for many long-term residents, while Medicare typically covers limited-period stays.

However, nursing home companies have been reluctant to enact vaccine mandates for their employees amid staffing shortages, as staffers who don’t wish to be vaccinated might depart for other jobs.

As of August 1, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data showed that 82.4% of nursing home residents and 60% of nursing home staff members per facility were vaccinated.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2021.