Admin Announces New $350 Million Initiative to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced a new $350 million initiative for HRSA-supported health centers to increase COVID-19 vaccines in their communities, with a specific focus on underserved populations. This funding will support health centers administering updated COVID-19 vaccines through mobile, drive-up, walk-up,…

Call with Surgeon General: Increasing Bivalent Vax of Elderly & Disabled

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs and the Administration for Community Living invite you to join a webinar with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and other subject matter experts on how we can work together to accelerate vaccination of people with disabilities, older adults, and others who are…

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to COVID-19 Worker Vax Mandate

On Monday, October 3, the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from ten states attorneys general, declining to hear their legal challenge to the COVID-19 health care worker vaccination mandate created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The mandate, which included exemptions for religious purposes, applied to about 10.4 million workers at care facilities that receive…

Your Help Needed with COVID-19 Survey

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program has been working on an initiative to develop and distribute at-home COVID-19 tests that are accessible to people with a range of disabilities. As part of this effort, they are working to collect user experiences with existing at-home COVID tests, and have prepared…

Vaccination Expectations for Surveyors

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated its vaccination expectations for surveyors.  In January of this year CMS issued a memo (QSO-22-10-ALL) requiring state agency surveyors and accrediting organization (AO) surveyors performing deemed status surveys to not participate in onsite surveys unless fully vaccinated (unless vaccination is medically contraindicated or the individual is legally entitled to a reasonable accommodation under federal civil rights laws because they have a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that conflict with the vaccination requirement).

That memo whas been rescinded.

With QSO-22-18-ALL CMS encourages surveyors conducting federal surveys to be vaccinated but does not require it (or an acceptable exemption).  It remains up to the survey entity to implement policies around COVID-19 vaccination (and exemptions).

Previous guidance for surveyors entering nursing homes was provided in QSO-20-39-NH and this guidance remains.  While it is not directly applicable to home health and hospice providers, it may be applicable to some hospice inpatient facilities. Additionally, some state survey agencies and AOs have incorporated this guidance into their policies and procedures. It is expect that home health and hospice providers will not request vaccination status of surveyors or restrict surveyor access based on vaccination status.

Vaccination Expectations for Surveyors

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated its vaccination expectations for surveyors.  In January of this year CMS issued a memo (QSO-22-10-ALL) requiring state agency surveyors and accrediting organization (AO) surveyors performing deemed status surveys to not participate in onsite surveys unless fully vaccinated (unless vaccination is medically contraindicated or the individual…

Vaccination Expectations for Surveyors

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated its vaccination expectations for surveyors.  In January of this year CMS issued a memo (QSO-22-10-ALL) requiring state agency surveyors and accrediting organization (AO) surveyors performing deemed status surveys to not participate in onsite surveys unless fully vaccinated (unless vaccination is medically contraindicated or the individual is legally entitled to a reasonable accommodation under federal civil rights laws because they have a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that conflict with the vaccination requirement).

That memo whas been rescinded.

With QSO-22-18-ALL CMS encourages surveyors conducting federal surveys to be vaccinated but does not require it (or an acceptable exemption).  It remains up to the survey entity to implement policies around COVID-19 vaccination (and exemptions).

Previous guidance for surveyors entering nursing homes was provided in QSO-20-39-NH and this guidance remains.  While it is not directly applicable to home health and hospice providers, it may be applicable to some hospice inpatient facilities. Additionally, some state survey agencies and AOs have incorporated this guidance into their policies and procedures. It is expect that home health and hospice providers will not request vaccination status of surveyors or restrict surveyor access based on vaccination status.

Surveys for Compliance with Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Requirements

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted memo QSO-22-17-ALL containing new instructions for surveys for compliance with Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Requirements. CMS previously issued guidance and survey procedures to survey entities for assessing and maintaining compliance with the regulatory requirements for vaccination.

Under the previous guidance, federal, state and Accreditation Organization (AO) surveyors were to assess for compliance with the vaccination requirements at surveys for initial certification, standard recertification or reaccreditation, and complaint surveys.

Effective immediately, surveyors will continue to survey for compliance with the vaccination requirements during initial and recertification surveys, but will now only survey for compliance in response to complaints alleging non-compliance with this requirement (not all complaint surveys).  Since the vaccination requirements became effective earlier this year, 95% of the nearly 12,000 providers that have been surveyed by states are in compliance with the requirements.

This most recent memo also instructs state survey agencies to reach out to their CMS Location if they are considering citing vaccine requirements at immediate jeopardy, Condition or actual harm levels.  CMS is reviewing its previous interpretive guidance describing Immediate Jeopardy, Condition-level and actual harm determinations to ensure that deficiency citations recognize good faith efforts by providers/suppliers and to more fully evaluate harm or potential harm to patients/residents by considering trends in COVID-19 rates in the community.

Stay tuned to NAHC Report for more information on these updates as they become available.

Surveys for Compliance with Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Requirements

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted memo QSO-22-17-ALL containing new instructions for surveys for compliance with Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Requirements. CMS previously issued guidance and survey procedures to survey entities for assessing and maintaining compliance with the regulatory requirements for vaccination. Under the previous guidance, federal, state and Accreditation…

Eligible Patients Can Receive Free 2nd COVID Booster

On April 6, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will pay for a second COVID-19 booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines without cost sharing, as it continues to provide coverage for this critical protection from the virus. People with Medicare pay nothing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. People with Medicaid coverage can also get COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, at no cost.

The CDC recently updated its recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. Certain immunocompromised individuals and people ages 50 years and older who received an initial booster dose at least 4 months ago are eligible for another booster to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19. Additionally, the CDC recommends that adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago can receive a second booster dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster doses, is the best defense against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from the virus. CMS continues to explore ways to ensure maximum access to COVID-19 vaccinations. More information regarding the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Requirements and how the COVID-19 vaccine is provided through that program at no cost to recipients is available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/vaccination-provider-support.html and through the CMS COVID-19 Provider Toolkit.

People can visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search for vaccines nearby.