In an interim final rule with comment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (1) to educate residents and their representatives and staff about vaccinations for COVID-19, (2) to offer residents and staff vaccinations, if available to the facility, and (3) to report vaccine information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). CMS intends to post the information reported to CDC on its COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website, https://data.cms.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-Nursing-Home-Data/bkwz-xpvg. The rule goes into effect May 21, 2021; comments are due by July 12, 2021.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy has two recommendations.
- First, knowing that residents and families choosing a nursing home are likely to want to know about facility’s vaccination rates, the Center recommends that the nursing home section of Care Compare (the federal website for the public about nursing homes and other health care providers) include (1) a statement that information about vaccination rates in facilities is available on its COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website and (2) a link to the website.
- Second, the Center recommends that CMS impose specific civil money penalties when facilities fail to educate residents and staff about vaccinations and fail to offer vaccinations. At present, in a letter to state survey agencies describing the interim final rule, CMS reports that it will impose specific penalties only when facilities fail to report to CDC — $1,000 for the first occurrence, increased by $500 for repeated noncompliance.
Among other issues, CMS invites public comment on whether it should implement similar vaccination policies for other Medicare and Medicaid participating shared residences, such as assisted living and adult foster homes.
For further information and instructions on how to comment, see:
- 86 Fed. Reg. 26306 (May 13, 2021), https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-05-13/pdf/2021-10122.pdf and
- CMS, “Interim Final Rule – COVID-19 Vaccine Immunization Requirements for Residents and Staff,” QSO-21-19-NH (May 11, 2021) (describing the interim final rule in a memorandum to state survey agencies), https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-21-19-nh.pdf