President Biden announced Wednesday that his administration will require that nursing home staffs be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. Biden unveiled the policy in a White House address as the administration looks for ways to use mandates to encourage vaccine holdouts to get the shots, the AP reports. "If you visit, live or work in a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk for contracting COVID from unvaccinated employees," Biden said. Hundreds of thousands of nursing home workers are not vaccinated, according to federal data, despite those facilities bearing the brunt of the early COVID-19 outbreak and their workers being among the first in the country to be eligible for shots. The mandate, in the form of a regulation to be issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, could take effect as soon as next month.
The administration is seeking to raise the costs for those who have yet to get vaccinated. In just the past three weeks, Biden has forced millions of federal workers to attest to their vaccination status or face onerous new requirements, with even stricter requirements for federal workers in frontline health roles, and his administration has moved toward mandating vaccines for the military. Biden has also celebrated businesses that have mandated vaccines for their own workforces and highlighted local vaccine mandates as a condition for daily activities, like indoor dining. The effort seems to be paying off, as the nation's rate of new vaccinations has nearly doubled over the past month. Mark Parkinson, CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, praised Biden's decision but called on him to go further. "Vaccination mandates for health care personnel should be applied to all health care settings," he said. "Without this, nursing homes face a disastrous workforce challenge."
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