Medicare requires nursing homes to report COVID vaccinations

They represent about 1 of the U.S. population but accounted for roughly 1 in 3 deaths, according to previous estimates from the COVID Tracking Project.This is an important development that is months overdue, said David Grabowski, a Harvard health policy professor who has tracked the industrys struggles with the outbreak.Many of us argued that this information should have been published starting in December when the federal long-term care vaccination effort began. Nursing homes will now be required to submit weekly vaccination numbers for residents and staff to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


PTI | Washington DC | Updated: 11-05-2021 22:45 IST | Created: 11-05-2021 22:45 IST
Medicare requires nursing homes to report COVID vaccinations
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Medicare will require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff, the government said Tuesday.

Officials hope to nudge facilities to keep giving shots as the worst ravages of the pandemic ease but the danger of a rebound still lurks.

“We're hoping to drive increased vaccination rates among residents and staff, as well as transparency for residents and their families,'' Dr. Lee Fleisher, chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told The Associated Press.

Medicare's move to sustain the pace of vaccinations comes as an initial effort to get shots to nursing homes across the country has wound down. That partnership between the government and retail pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens is being succeeded by an ongoing collaboration with specialized long-term care pharmacies that cater to the needs of the nursing home industry. Assisted living facilities and other care centers serving older people can also participate.

A smooth transition will be critical because the coronavirus is far from eradicated, even as new residents are being admitted to long-term care facilities and staffing ebbs and flows.

People living in long-term care facilities have borne a heavy toll from the pandemic. They represent about 1% of the U.S. population but accounted for roughly 1 in 3 deaths, according to previous estimates from the COVID Tracking Project.

“This is an important development that is months overdue,” said David Grabowski, a Harvard health policy professor who has tracked the industry's struggles with the outbreak.

“Many of us argued that this information should have been published starting in December when the federal long-term care vaccination effort began.” Nursing homes will now be required to submit weekly vaccination numbers for residents and staff to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That requirement will take effect within two weeks. Medicare officials say it may take two to four more weeks after that for the data to start flowing. The plan is to post facility-level information on the internet so residents and families can easily access the details from Medicare's “Compare Care” websites.

“This action will give us much greater insight into the levels of vaccination,'' said Medicare's Fleisher. By being able to monitor across the entire industry, health officials will be able to direct vaccines to nursing homes that appear to be lagging.

The new rule also requires nursing homes and facilities serving people with intellectual disabilities to offer vaccines and factual education about them to residents, staff and clients.

Nursing homes are now required to report COVID-19 cases and deaths but not vaccinations. A relatively small number of facilities provide the data voluntarily to the government.

“Publicizing this information will hopefully encourage facilities and policymakers to continue efforts to vaccinate staff and residents,” said Grabowski. “Many staff were initially hesitant about the vaccine, and new staff and residents also need to be vaccinated. There is still a lot of work left to do.” Cases and deaths have plummeted after the government launched a concerted effort to vaccinate residents and staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 2.9 million nursing home residents and staffers are fully vaccinated. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have opened up family visits again after spending a year in lockdown.

Nursing homes are already required to report rates of flu vaccination. But until the new requirements were issued Tuesday, there was no similar requirement for COVID-19 vaccines even though disease from the coronavirus is far more lethal. IND

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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