What ASCs want CMS to consider before issuing vaccination mandate

CMS plans to issue a rule that will require ASCs, along with all other healthcare providers, to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for staff as a condition of participating in Medicare. 

Joe Peluso, administrator of Aestique Surgery Center in Greensburg, Pa., spoke with Becker's ASC Review on how he thinks the mandate should be implemented.

Question: Will vaccination mandates affect staffing shortages at ASCs?

Joe Peulso: CMS needs to provide clear and specific information, including appropriate safeguards, to preserve access to care in local communities with adequate staffing. CMS needs to also provide adequate time and consideration for providers to come into compliance with any new mandate. The penalty for noncompliance will be removal from Medicare and Medicaid payments which would jeopardize providers' financial viability and threaten their ability to provide care to communities. Many healthcare providers are already experiencing severe workforce shortages, and a hasty mandate could prompt abrupt resignations of sufficient staff, prompting ASCs to suspend services. 

ASCs run "mean and lean" so staffing shortages would create a major problem that would not serve the best interests of the patients in the local community or CMS. In addition, CMS needs to provide flexibility in the event of vaccine supply shortages, as well as exceptions for medical and religious reasons. 

Coordination and consistency in implementing a national vaccination mandate is essential. President Joe Biden's COVID-19 Action Plan requires all employers with 100 or more employees to either fully vaccinate their staff or implement weekly COVID-19 testing.

There should be one set of federally mandated rules and regulations to which all employers, including ASCs and healthcare providers, should be held accountable. These mandate decisions need to be sensitive and take into consideration local circumstances affecting patient care in local communities and healthcare facilities.

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