Home Health, Hospice, Private Duty, Skilled Nursing Facility

Supreme Court allows CMS vaccine mandate

The Supreme Court will allow a CMS rule mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees of certified Medicare and Medicaid health care providers to move ahead, granting a stay of injunctions brought in two lower courts hearing challenges to the rule.

The CMS rule requires agencies to put policies and procedures in place for employee vaccination and the handling of exemption requests by Jan. 27, 2022. Full vaccination of all eligible employees is expected by Feb. 28, 2022.

In its ruling, the five-member majority of the court wrote that the CMS rule “fits neatly” within the statutory authority granted to the Department of Health and Human Services, and notes CMS “routinely imposes conditions of participation that relate to the qualifications and duties of health care workers themselves.”

The vaccine requirement is for all eligible employees, regardless of whether they work directly with patients, unless they work 100% remote and have no contact with other employees.

In guidance to surveyors, CMS offered thresholds allowed if a provider hasn’t met the vaccination requirements of the rule but is showing progress toward 100% compliance.

The court blocked an OSHA requirement for vaccination or regular testing at large private employers outside of health care settings.

We’ll have more coverage on the rule in upcoming issues of Home Health Line.