Navigating New Restrictions and Compliance Protocol in the Wake of COVID-19

New restrictions have been put in place by the government to protect vulnerable populations from contracting COVID-19. Since the pandemic surge first hit, governing bodies have been trying to come up with common sense policies that will help mitigate the effects of the virus and reduce the spread to elderly patients which are more likely to experience severe cases. 


In an effort to stop the spread of the disease, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services created a mandate for all home health workers to be either vaccinated or regularly tested. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attempted to enact a similar mandate. Read on to find out the results of these mandates and how your home health or hospice agency can remain in compliance with new protocols. 


Supreme Court Blocks OSHA Mandate 


The Supreme Court shot down the OSHA sponsored mandate to vaccinate or regularly test all healthcare workers in businesses with over 100 employees by a 6-3 count. All private businesses with over 100 employees would have been mandated to vaccinate their staff or test them regularly for COVID-19 but the mandate was rejected on the premise that OSHA should not have the authority to regulate public health to that degree. While OSHA has been tasked with eradicating potential workplace or occupational dangers, the Supreme Court decided that levying this decree on private businesses was not acceptable, thus the mandate was rejected. 


CMS Vaccine Mandate to Remain in Effect 


Conversely, the mandate from the CMS was upheld and still stands. The CMS mandate requires all home health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 since these workers are servicing a very vulnerable population of Americans. Home health and hospice agencies will need to begin preparing for fines if they do not reach compliance with the CMS mandate. It goes into effect February 28, 2022, and staff members are required to have received at least one vaccine dose by January 27, 2022. 


The judges gave the following rationale for upholding the CMS mandate, “COVID-19 is a highly contagious, dangerous, and – especially for Medicare and Medicaid patients – deadly disease. Vaccination requirements are a common feature of the provision of healthcare in America: Healthcare workers around the country are ordinarily required to be vaccinated for diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza, and measles, mumps, and rubella.” 


Ensuring Your Agency Maintains Compliance 


At this juncture, all home health care workers are required to be vaccinated or tested regularly to maintain compliance with the CMS mandate. Therefore, even though the OSHA mandate was temporarily blocked, home health and hospice agencies must ensure that all of their staff members are in compliance with the new law by no later than February 28, 2022. 

To learn more about news affecting the home health and hospice industries, take a look at our other blog postings to find interesting articles that explore critical issues facing agencies.

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