ASC staff nationwide must be vaccinated by Jan. 4, CMS says

A CMS emergency regulation, issued Nov. 4, requires COVID-19 vaccination for staff at healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The legislation covers more than 17 million workers at more than healthcare 76,000 facilities in the U.S., including ASCs, hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis facilities, home health agencies and long-term care facilities. 

The rule applies to clinical and nonclinical employees and includes students, trainees and volunteers who work at a Medicare or Medicaid-funded facility, as well as those who provide treatment or other services for the facility under contract or other arrangements. According to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, there are about 5,700 Medicare-certified ASCs in the U.S.

CMS is requiring the facilities covered in the regulation to ensure eligible staff have received at least one vaccine dose prior to providing any treatment or service by Dec. 5.

By Jan. 4, staff must be fully vaccinated with either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna's immunization or one dose of Johnson & Johnson's, according to CMS.

"Ensuring patient safety and protection from COVID-19 has been the focus of our efforts in combating the pandemic and the constantly evolving challenges we're seeing," CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said Nov. 4. "Today's action addresses the risk of unvaccinated healthcare staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation's healthcare system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them."

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