The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new rule that will require nursing homes and long-term care facilities to report their COVID-19 vaccination rates for both residents and staff.
The updated vaccination reporting requirement will assist in monitoring uptake amongst residents and staff and aid in identifying facilities that may need additional resources and/or assistance to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 virus crisis.
"These new requirements reinforce CMS' commitment of ensuring equitable vaccine access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries," said Dr. Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS' Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ).
Fleisher says the new rule will aid residents of long-term care facilities who have been "disproportionately affected by COVID-19."
Goal to Increase Confidence in Care Facilities
"Our goal is to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and acceptance among these individuals and the staff who serve them," Dr. Fleisher said.
To ensure long-term care facilities receive support for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, they must report weekly vaccination data of residents and staff to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the nation's most widely used healthcare-associated infection tracking system.
Long-term care facilities are already required to report COVID-19 testing, case, and mortality data to the NHSN for residents and staff but have not been required to report vaccination data. As data becomes available, CMS will post facility-specific vaccination status information reported to the NHSN for viewing by facilities, stakeholders, and the public on CMS' COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
COVID-19 Vaccines Been Delivered Since December, 2020
Operation Warp Speed, which started in December 2020, delivered vaccines to U.S. nursing homes. The program has vaccinated over 1.4 million residents and over 1 million staff who work in those facilities so far.
People require long-term health care services due to illnesses, accidents, or the impact of aging. Most residents are older. While most long-term health care is delivered at home, often people seek care in assisted living, memory care, or, when necessary, nursing homes.
Increased Longevity Increasing Demand for Extended Care
More people require long-term care than ever before, as increased longevity means higher rates for dementia and other aging issues.
Health insurance, including Medicare, will not pay for most long-term care services outside a limited amount of skilled care. The COVID-19 virus crisis has placed yet another level of burden and anxiety on American families. Many adult children are forced to take off work to provide care for an older parent. In addition to being demanding both physically and emotionally, the risk of COVID-19 infection is a concern for the caregiver and their families, in addition to the care recipient.
Long-Term Care Insurance does pay for these services, but you must have reasonably good health to purchase coverage which is usually done when someone is in their 50s.
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