Nursing homes must require workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to continue receiving funding for Medicare and Medicaid, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.
"If you work in a nursing home and serve people on Medicare or Medicaid, you will also be required to get vaccinated," Biden said on Wednesday.
The US Department of Health and Human Services will develop new regulations on nursing home employees, COVID-19 vaccines and the Medicare and Medicaid programs. They'll go into effect as early as next month, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will work with nursing home employees and unions to get staff vaccinated, according to an earlier report by CNN.
The new regulations apply to about 150,000 nursing home facilities, 1.5 million workers and about 1.3 million nursing home residents, according to a White House Fact Sheet.
In his announcement, Biden pointed to vaccination rates among nursing home staff that "trail" the rest of the country, and the fact that over 130,000 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Only one in five US nursing homes had fully vaccinated 75% of their staff, an industry target, according to a July 19 data analysis from the American Association of Retired Persons.
Biden's anticipated order will add to the federal government's increasing reach to get as many Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 as possible. But this is the first time the government has threatened to withhold funds to do so.
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