The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a six-week, $475 million campaign to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates among nursing home residents, and industry leaders immediately responded with a unified demand for responsibility shared by other suppliers and stakeholders.
Several direct threats have been made against nursing home operators as part of the White House’s multi-pronged plan to increase recall awareness and vaccine accessibility for the frail and elderly.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services each issued supplemental announcements highlighting elements of the overall announcement. The White House announcement singled out nursing homes in the context of federal enforcement of guidelines to educate staff and residents and offer vaccinations to residents.
“CMS will make it clear that nursing homes with low vaccination rates will be referred to state investigative agencies for scrutiny, and that facilities that fail to comply with the requirement to offer and educating on the benefits of life-saving COVID-19 vaccinations will be subject to enforcement action. , including the requirement to submit corrective action plans to achieve compliance,” the White House statement read.
Additionally, the White House is appealing to governors to increase pressure on vendors, noting that the administration will “highlight for them the performance of their states relative to their peers.”
Additionally, CMS will share data with states and health plans to highlight “worst performing nursing homes to help them spur action” to increase immunization rates.
Suppliers defend the record
The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living and LeadingAge quickly pushed back with a special, combined statement in defense of providers.
“Nursing homes have done an amazing job of vaccinating residents, but we have work to do with the most recent booster,” said AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson, and LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan in a rare joint statement. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43% of residents are up to date on their COVID vaccinations, which is almost four times higher than the dismal rate of 11% among the general population.
“We all share the same goal: to ensure the health and well-being of older people. We believe we can continue to increase this recall rate, and doing so requires a shared commitment from government and other health care providers. For example, 90% of residents are admitted to nursing homes from hospitals, and very few of these residents are up to date on their vaccines upon admission. Through collaboration with hospitals, the number of vaccines can be improved.
The Biden administration has said it wants to help the cause by: making vaccinations more convenient; increase funding for community organizations and health centres; emphasize enforcement of nursing home requirements to educate staff and residents about vaccines and offer them to residents; continue to work with communities and organizations to offer pop-up clinics; and awareness.
Callback clinics are a solution
A prominent nursing home advocate said the campaign could work with additional federal help. of Health Care Policy at Harvard University’s Department of Health Care Policy for McKnight Long Term Care News.
“Some facilities have done really well administering boosters, but others have really struggled,” Grabowski said. “For the facilities with low recall rates, I’m not convinced that you can bring them to an acceptable level through fines. These are facilities that often face greater challenges on top of the boosters.”
Grabowski has always encouraged the use of booster clinics in nursing homes.
“This approach worked with the initial rollout of the vaccine and I think it can work for boosters,” he said. “They were working under the original long-term care pharmacy program, but I’m not aware of them being widely used for reminders. It would clearly take federal dollars and a similar type of national pharmaceutical partnership that has was used in the initial deployment of the vaccine.”
The administration appeared to be heading in that direction with Tuesday’s announcement, but it was unclear how the scope of the involvement would compare to the federal government’s initial outreach after the COVID vaccines became available. In addition to $350 million for community center participation, officials said they would allocate $125 million to organizations that serve the elderly and people with disabilities and to help run “vaccination events at community centers.” for the elderly and community”.