Biden to Require Nursing Home Staff Vaccinations as Condition for Federal Funding

President Joe Biden recently ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to draft new regulations requiring all nursing home staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose federal funding.

The policy would withhold Medicare and Medicaid funding to nursing home facilities without fully vaccinated staff. Officials said enforcement might begin in the coming months, though the timing is currently flexible.

This policy is the latest effort from the government to rein in the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant. The move affects approximately 15,000 nursing homes, which employ over 1.3 million people.

“If you work in a nursing home and serve people on Medicare or Medicaid, you will also be required to get vaccinated.”

– President Biden

Across the United States, only 60% of nursing home staff is vaccinated—a stark contrast to 82% of nursing home residents, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

This disparity is one of the motivations behind the latest vaccine requirement. Health experts argue that unvaccinated nursing home staff present serious health risks to their residents.

What’s Next?

This latest policy decision demonstrates the Biden administration’s increased efforts to curb the spread of Delta. Fundamentally, it represents the first time the government has compelled nongovernment employees to get vaccinated. As such, the policy sets an important precedent and may bolster some employers who are considering requiring vaccinations among their own employees.

Employers can consider what they can do in their workplaces to help protect employees from Delta and its complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination is the best way to do so.

Reach out to HR&P for educational resources and employee communications.

This Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. Design ©2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.