**The following information does not apply to private physicians’ practices.
On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Health Care Staff Vaccination Standards, which gives CMS the authority to enforce its interim final rule requiring many Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers to vaccinate their staff for COVID-19.
Medicare- and Medicaid- certified facilities in Arkansas that will be required to comply with the rule include the following facilities:
- Ambulatory surgical centers
- Psychiatric resident treatment facilities
- Programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly
- Hospitals (acute care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, hospital swing beds, long-term care hospitals, children’s hospitals, transplant centers, cancer hospitals, and rehabilitation hospitals/inpatient rehabilitation facilities)
- Long term care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities (nursing homes)
- Intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities
- Home health agencies
- Comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities
- Critical access hospitals
- Clinics that are rehabilitation agencies, public health agencies as providers of outpatient physical therapy and speech-language pathology services
- Community mental health centers
- Home infusion therapy suppliers
- Rural health clinics/federally qualified health centers
- End-stage renal disease facilities
This vaccine mandate rule DOES NOT apply to other health care entities, such as physician offices, that are not regulated by CMS.
In the guidance, CMS has developed a phased approach for Arkansas facilities to come into compliance with the rule:
- Phase 1 deadline for Arkansas is February 14, 2022. Facilities must have all policies and procedures in place for ensuring staff are fully vaccinated, providing exemptions, and tracking staff vaccinations. Staff at all health care facilities included within the regulation must have received, at a minimum, the first dose of a primary series or a single dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to staff providing any care, treatment, or other services for the facility and/or its patients.
- Phase 2 deadline is March 15, 2022. Staff must be fully vaccinated (except for those who have been granted exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine or for those staff for whom the COVID-19 vaccination must be temporarily delayed, as recommended by the CDC).
CMS has stated its “primary goal is to bring health care facilities into compliance”, which means federal, state, accreditation organization, and CMS-contracted surveyors will begin surveying for compliance within the phased deadline. For the February 14 deadline, a facility that is above 80% and has a plan to achieve a 100% staff vaccination rate within 60 days would not be subject to additional enforcement action. For the phase 2 deadline of March 15, a facility that is above 90% and has a plan to achieve a 100% staff vaccination rate within 30 days would not be subject to additional enforcement action.
Facilities that do not meet these parameters could be subject to additional enforcement actions depending on the severity of the deficiency and the type of facility. CMS indicated that non-compliance does not necessarily lead to termination, and facilities will have opportunities to get back into compliance.
For specific questions about the vaccination rule as it applies to your facility, please contact Tereasa Holmes, AMS Director of Practice and Health Policy, at email@example.com or call 501-224-8967.
Click here to read the official CMS guidance.