In The News

Court Halts COVID-19 Vaccination/Testing Mandate for Businesses

A Federal Court of Appeals temporarily halted the Biden administration's OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that required businesses with over 100 employees to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or regular testing.

The Stay was issued by a three judge panel at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, following a request by Texas, Utah, Mississippi and South Carolina, as well as businesses who claimed they would be adversely impacted.

The judges wrote: "Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court.”  

Read the court’s ruling here:

https://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/21/21-60845.0.pdf

 

CDC data shows vaccines 5x more effective than prior COVID-19 infections

Healthcare IT News / By Kat Jercich

Data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that among hospitalized patients with symptoms similar to COVID-19, unvaccinated people with a previous novel coronavirus infection were five times more likely to test positive than fully vaccinated people.  

"These findings suggest that among hospitalized adults with COVID-19-like illness whose previous infection or vaccination occurred 90-179 days earlier, vaccine-induced immunity was more protective than infection-induced immunity against laboratory-confirmed COVID-19," said study authors.  

WHY IT MATTERS  

The agency used data from 187 hospitals in the VISION Network, which includes Columbia University Irving Medical Center, HealthPartners, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente Northern California and Northwest, Regenstrief Institute, and University of Colorado.   

By examining data from adults hospitalized between January and September 2021, it compared the odds of testing positive for COVID-19 among adults who had not received an mRNA vaccine, but who'd had a previous novel coronavirus infection, with individuals who had gotten two Pfizer or Moderna shots.  

The chances of testing positive for COVID-19 were 5.49 times higher among the former group.  

The benefits of vaccination in this particular study appeared to be higher for Moderna recipients and for those older than 65. The agency noted several limitations, including potential misclassification of patients and selection bias.   

The study only examined adults who had tested positive more than three months prior to their hospitalization in order to reduce the chances that their illness was related to an ongoing infection rather than a new one.

It also did not include those who had received only one mRNA vaccine dose, those who obtained their second shot less than two weeks before hospitalization or those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.  

In addition, wrote researchers, "These results might not be generalizable to nonhospitalized patients who have different access to medical care or different healthcare-seeking behaviors, particularly outside of the nine states covered."  

Overall, they said, the messaging remains consistent: Everyone eligible should get the vaccine – including those who have already had COVID-19.    

THE LARGER TREND  

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more data has become available about the disease, and about who is particularly vulnerable to it.  

This past month, the CDC published the rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths by vaccine brand for the first time. Although efficacy differed by type, unvaccinated people had a 6.1 times greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 in August 2021, and an 11.3 times greater risk of dying from the disease.  

But hesitancy still remains an issue. Although digital health tools can help, advocates and strategists say getting shots into arms will require a thoughtful response.  

ON THE RECORD  

"This report focused on the early protection from infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity, though it is possible that estimates could be affected by time," wrote CDC researchers.   

"Understanding infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity over time is important, particularly for future studies to consider," they added.

 

Coverage is Available for COVID-19 Vaccinations for Eligible Children Ages 5 - 11

Coverage without cost-sharing is available in Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and the commercial health insurance market

Following the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent action authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in children 5 through 11 years of age and a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is reminding eligible consumers that coverage is available without cost-sharing under Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and in the commercial market for this critical protection from the virus without cost sharing. As with all vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was tested thoroughly in this age group prior to its authorization for emergency use. While the effects of COVID-19 for a child can last for several months, the most commonly reported side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in the clinical trial participants were generally mild to moderate in severity, and most went away within one to two days.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to keep children safe. The strongest protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant, is to get vaccinated,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “I encourage parents everywhere to talk with their pediatrician, school nurse, or other trusted healthcare provider about any questions they may have and to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible.” 

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), nearly all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries are eligible to receive coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and their administration without cost-sharing. Beneficiaries with Medicare pay nothing for COVID-19 vaccines or their administration, and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. COVID-19 vaccines and their administration will also be covered without cost-sharing for eligible consumers of most issuers of health insurance in the commercial market. People can visit vaccines.gov (English) or vacunas.gov (Spanish) to search for nearby locations to receive a vaccine.

Additionally, under the terms of the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement, health care providers and other entities administering COVID-19 vaccines must agree not to deny anyone a COVID-19 vaccination based on their health coverage status and must also agree to administer COVID-19 vaccines at no out-of-pocket cost to recipients. More information regarding the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Requirements and how the COVID-19 vaccine is provided through that program at no cost to recipients is available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/vaccination-provider-support.html and through the CMS COVID-19 Provider Toolkit. 

 

Biden-Harris Administration Issues COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate Details

Last Thursday, both the Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination interim final rule with comment period (IFC) and the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) were posted for public inspection.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require full COVID-19 vaccination for all employees at Medicare and Medicaid-participating healthcare facilities by Jan. 4, 2022, and OSHA will require all employees at businesses with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated by the same date or to get tested weekly for the virus and wear a face mask in the workplace.

Specifically, the official announcement states that, “Facilities covered by this regulation must establish a policy ensuring all eligible staff have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to providing any care, treatment, or other services by December 5, 2021.

“All eligible staff must have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – by January 4, 2022. The regulation also provides for exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances, or practices. Facilities must develop a similar process or plan for permitting exemptions in alignment with federal law.”

Booster shots are not mandated.

Read additional details about the Application of the orders, approved Accommodations, Enforcement, Resources and more on HHAC’s Vaccination Orders Member Resource Center

https://hcac.memberclicks.net/hhac-member-resource-center--covid-19-vaccination-orders

 

FY 2022 Home Health Final Rule Released

On Tuesday, 11/02/2021, the FY 2022 Home Health Final Rule went on display at the Federal Register’s Public Inspection Desk aand will be available under special filings at: https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2021-23993.pdf

An HHAC members only synopsis of the 528 page rule can be accessed here:  

https://hcac.memberclicks.net/fy-2022-home-health-final-rule-synopsis

Also as part of the 2022 Home Health Final Rule, CMS released final rules regarding broad hospice survey reforms that were enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA 2021), which include expansion of enforcement remedies available to CMS for use in response to survey deficiencies, requirements to make hospice survey findings publicly available, and creation of a Hospice Special Focus Program.

An HHAC overview of hospice survey reforms can be found here: 

https://hcac.memberclicks.net/hospice-survey-reforms-updated-in-2022-home-health-final-rule

As it becomes available, additional information will be shared through HHAC's weekly newsletter and Member Meetings.

 
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