Health care workers concerned federal vaccine mandate will exacerbate workforce crisis: statement

Coronavirus

In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, photograph, a sign notifies customers that COVID-19 vaccinations are available at a pharmacy in a grocery store in Monument, Colo. Millions of U.S. workers now have a Jan. 4 deadline to get a COVID vaccine. The federal government on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 announced new vaccine requirements for workers at companies with more than 100 employees as well as workers at health care facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), organizations that represent nursing homes and long term care facilities nationwide, issued a statement responding to the the recent federal vaccine mandate requiring all workers in Medicare and Medicaid-certified health care settings to be vaccinated against COVID-19 voicing both support and concern.

“Once again, we appreciate the Biden Administration’s efforts to ensure that as many workers as possible in all health care settings are vaccinated. Nursing home providers have dedicated themselves to increasing staff vaccination rates, and as a result, three-quarters of employees are fully vaccinated today. We are committed to forging ahead and encouraging all staff members to get these safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

“While we support the overall intent of this CMS policy, we are concerned that the execution will exacerbate an already dire workforce crisis in long term care. A hard deadline with no resources for providers or glide path for unvaccinated workers is likely to push too many out the door and ultimately, threaten residents’ access to long term care.

“Even a small percentage of staff members leaving their jobs due to this mandate would have a disastrous impact on vulnerable seniors who need around-the-clock care. Across the country, access to long term care is becoming strained as providers have no choice but to limit admissions or even close their doors due to workforce shortages. We hope to continue working with the Administration to make the federal vaccine mandate successful while supporting our residents and caregivers.”

Mark Parkinson, president an CEO or AHCA/NCAL

AHCA/NCAL represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities nationwide and provides care to approximately five million people per year.

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