The Biden administration is reportedly issuing an ultimatum to nursing homes, requiring staffers to be vaccinated or risk losing federal funds.
Administration officials told CNN on Wednesday that the Biden White House will direct the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) to craft regulations forcing nursing homes to require staffers to be vaccinated in order to qualify to receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid.
White House coronavirus response team senior official Carole Johnson told CNN that it is “especially important that we ensure that those caring for our most vulnerable are vaccinated” in the wake of the delta variant. The move would affect 1.3 million individuals who are employed by nursing homes across the nation receiving federal funds.
According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data, 40 percent of those workers are unvaccinated.
“We have seen tremendous progress with low Covid rates within the nursing home population and I think we’re seeing signs that it is starting to tip the other direction. We don’t want to go backwards,” Jonathan Blum, CMS’ principal deputy administrator, said, adding that they are “on a wartime footing here. “
“We are leaning in to making sure we are taking the steps that we can to ensure the health and safety of Americans and we will continue to do so,” he added. “Delta’s not waiting and so we’re not waiting.”
The news comes as states begin to take individual action, requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. California was the first state in the nation to make such a move, and New York followed suit this week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) added that he has “strongly” urged private businesses to implement vaccinated-only admission policies — a move Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) already made in New York City.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) August 17 data, 50.9 percent of the U.S. population is considered fully vaccinated.
Additionally, the Biden administration is expected to roll out a plan for coronavirus booster shots following CDC data showing a “worrying drop” in vaccine efficacy over time.