Missouri closes nursing homes due to mandatory vaccines
The Missouri Department of Health is providing legal means for the temporary closure of nursing homes because they are facing a shortage of staff due to the new requirements of President Joe Biden’s administration to vaccinate medical staff for COVID-19.
An emergency regulation issued by the State Department of Health and Advanced Services on Friday will allow skilled nursing and intermediate nursing facilities to close for up to two years if they are understaffed due to vaccine needs. They can then reopen without having to start the licensing process from scratch.
The COVID-19 vaccination rate in a nursing home in Missouri is the lowest in the country, and the state’s Republican elected officials have been opposed to Biden’s vaccination requirements. As part of a coalition of 10 states seeking to block vaccine authorization, State Attorney General Eric Schmidt filed a lawsuit this week.
The state health department drafted the closure rules “very cautiously”, not knowing whether it was necessary, department spokesperson Lisa Cox said.
“If workers are not vaccinated, or if they cannot hire vaccinated staff to ensure the health and safety of residents, the facility may have no choice but to temporarily shut down,” Cox said.
A federal rule issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week requires that more than 17 million workers in approximately 76,000 medical institutions and home healthcare providers be vaccinated against COVID-19. Two health plans for the elderly, the disabled, and the disabled receive federal funding. Low-income residents. Unless a religious or medical exemption is granted, workers must receive the initial dose by December 6 and complete the vaccination by January 4.
When the CMS administrator initially announced the vaccination requirements for nursing home staff in August, the higher the staff’s vaccination rate, the fewer outbreaks among residents.
As of October 31, the latest CMS data listed Missouri as the last in the United States, and an average of 56.7% of the medical staff in its nursing homes have completed COVID-19 vaccination.
Nikki Strong, executive director of the Missouri Health Care Association, which represents about 350 long-term care facilities, said some nursing home managers have expressed concern that they may have to close due to vaccine regulations.
“All areas of the state-especially rural areas-are very hesitant about vaccines,” Strong said.
She said the emergency closure rules will provide the facility with a “last effort” so that it can be reopened if the workforce changes in the future.
“Our facility has made every effort to convince people to get vaccinated,” Strong said. But “the country will have to respond to facility closures.”