Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Reinstates COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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Health care workers are seen in a recent file photo. (ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Epoch Times

By Jack Phillips

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in a policy reversal, announced on Dec. 28 that it would start enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate to facilities in half of U.S. states in states where the mandate isn’t judicially enjoined.

CMS modified the compliance dates for the vaccine mandates. Facilities that received Medicaid or Medicare funding have to comply with the mandate’s first phase, meaning that all health care staff has to have received the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Jan. 27, 2022—or 30 days after the CMS memorandum (pdf) was issued.

Those facilities will have to comply with the CMS mandate’s second phase, meaning health care staff needs to receive the second dose, by Feb. 28 of next year, according to the memo.

Earlier this month, a CMS spokesperson told The Epoch Times that it suspended enforcement of the vaccine mandate for health care workers “pending future developments in litigation.” It came after several courts issued injunctions against the rule.

But now, according to its latest directive, a health care facility will have to show that “policies and procedures are developed and implemented for ensuring all facility staff” under the agency’s mandate, “regardless of clinical responsibility or patient or resident contact are vaccinated for COVID-19,” the memo stipulated.

The facility also has to show that “100 percent 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 [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” CMS’s directive said.

If fewer than 100 percent of staff are not compliant with the mandate, “the facility is non-compliant under the rule,” according to CMS. “The facility will receive notice of their non-compliance with the 100 percent standard. A facility that is above 80 percent and has a plan to achieve a 100 percent staff vaccination rate within 60 days would not be subject to additional enforcement action.”

Under the mandate, a facility that is not in compliance with the rule will have potentially risk losing its federal Medicare or Medicaid funding.

The CMS vaccine mandate will now impact the following states: 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, and Wisconsin.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming are not impacted at this time, according to CMS.

In the states where the vaccine mandate cannot be enforced, CMS surveyors “should not undertake any efforts” to bring facilities under compliance, said the memo.