A COVID-19 vaccination mandate for workers with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will end on Aug. 4, 2023.
CMS stated May 11 that the COVID-19 vaccination requirement would “soon end” but gave no further details at the time.
On June 5, CMS published a final rule “providing guidance to healthcare employees about unwinding provisions of its interim final rule, which mandated COVID-19 testing, education, and vaccinations,” according to law firm Littler Mendelson.
Vaccination mandate withdrawn
The final rule will withdraw the requirement that all healthcare workers regulated by CMS be fully vaccinated.
This doesn’t go into effect until Aug. 4, 2023, but CMS “explicitly stated” that it won’t enforce that mandate in the interim.
CMS stated that it still intends to encourage ongoing COVID-19 vaccination through other programs.
Staff, residents still get education on COVID-19 vaccinations
The final rule will also permanently adopt policies requiring covered providers to continue to educate staff and residents about COVID-19 vaccinations.
This lines up CMS’ approach to COVID-19 with that of other infectious diseases, such as influenza.
Expired testing requirements removed
Expired COVID-19 testing requirements that were first put in place on Sept. 2, 2020, have been removed under the final rule.
Providers should check state laws to ensure compliance
All of this comes with one caveat, Littler Mendelson states: Healthcare providers “may no longer rely upon the presumption that CMS’ vaccination rule preempts legislation in other states, such as Utah, which restrict employers from requiring vaccination or making employment decisions based on immunity status.”
That means it’s important that healthcare providers who want to continue with mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for their staff check on state-specific prohibitions to avoid violating state laws.