By Jordan Rau and Andy Miller
Kaiser Health News
President Joe Biden’s edict that nursing homes indispensable guarantee their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 presents a situation for an manufacture struggling to entice its lowest-paid workers to get shots without driving them to question employment elsewhere.
Although 83% of residents successful the mean nursing installation are vaccinated, lone 61% of a home’s workers are apt to be, according to data submitted by homes and published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services arsenic of the week ending Aug. 8. More than 602,000 unit members person contracted COVID-19 and much than 2,000 person died from it.
That led Biden to state past week that the authorities would necessitate worker vaccinations arsenic a information for nursing homes to person Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which relationship for astir of the industry’s income.
“More than 130,000 residents successful nursing homes have, sadly, implicit the play of this virus, passed away,” Biden told reporters. “At the aforesaid time, vaccination rates among nursing location unit importantly way the remainder of the country.”
Nursing homes successful Florida and Louisiana person the lowest mean unit vaccination rates among states, with 46% of workers successful a installation afloat vaccinated. Rates are highest successful Hawaii, with an mean of 87% of workers vaccinated by facility, and California, with 81% vaccinated connected average, the information shows.
The American Health Care Association, a nursing location lobby, said it appreciated the bid but that the mandate should use to different wellness attraction providers arsenic good truthful that workers who garbage vaccination won’t person a crushed to alteration jobs wrong the industry.
“Focusing lone connected nursing homes volition origin vaccine hesitant workers to fly to different wellness attraction providers and permission galore centers without capable unit to attraction for residents,” Mark Parkinson, relation president and CEO, said successful a statement. “It volition marque an already hard workforce shortage adjacent worse.”
David Grabowski, a prof of wellness attraction argumentation astatine Harvard Medical School, said that due to the fact that galore nursing location aides are paid lone the minimum wage oregon somewhat higher, they would beryllium much apt to question retired enactment astatine retail establishments.
“The hazard isn’t that they spell to the infirmary down the thoroughfare — the hazard is they spell to Starbucks oregon Target,” helium said successful an interview. “It’s large if you privation to mandate the vaccine, but you besides privation to marque definite these workers are making a surviving wage.”
Jon Green, CEO of Pinewood Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation successful agrarian Hawkinsville, Georgia, said the “vaccines are indispensable for power of the virus,” but “if we would person mandated it ourselves, it would person caused (many workers) to leave.’’
His facility, which is simply a nonprofit home, has astir 85 employees.
A small much than fractional of nursing location workers successful Georgia, connected average, are vaccinated.
Some facilities person already placed vaccination requirements connected employees, including PruittHealth, a ample Southern nursing location chain. The institution acceptable an Oct. 1 deadline for employees to person received astatine slightest an archetypal dose of vaccine. About 45% of its nursing location workforce has received a shot. PruittHealth said lone aesculapian and spiritual exemptions to its vaccine mandate volition beryllium considered connected a case-by-case basis.
Lori Smetanka, enforcement manager of Consumer Voice, a nonprofit that advocates for radical receiving semipermanent attraction services, said that if nursing homes win successful getting much employees to judge vaccinations, it mightiness marque it easier for them to clasp and enlistee others who person been fearful of catching COVID-19 astatine the homes.
“We did spot that a fig of workers reasonably aboriginal connected successful the pandemic had discontinue due to the fact that they were disquieted astir their ain safety,” Smetanka said. “This is 1 accidental to pull radical who person not been consenting to enactment successful the facilities.”
CMS said it would issue an exigency regularisation successful the coming weeks that adds unit vaccination to the requirements for nursing homes to person Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. That regularisation would presumably spell retired the criteria for compliance.
In practice, nursing homes seldom are thrown retired of the Medicare and Medicaid programs for violating the government’s conditions of participation. The authorities mostly gives facilities aggregate opportunities to close violations earlier proposing termination, adjacent erstwhile facilities person repeatedly flouted the rules.
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit quality work covering wellness issues. It is an editorially autarkic programme of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.