By Michael W. Bowling, Maggie K. Martin and Karen S. Rieger
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to lift the stays and allow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to move forward with enforcement of its vaccine mandate, CMS issued new guidance on Jan. 14, 2022, clarifying compliance deadlines for covered healthcare facilities in Oklahoma and 24 other states where the regulation had been stayed.
The new Phase 1 compliance deadline is Feb. 14, 2022. By this deadline, all eligible staff—including employees, practitioners, contractors, volunteers and students—should have received the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or should have sought an appropriate medical or religious exemption. (Note: new hires are not given an extended period to come into compliance.) Facilities should also have appropriate processes and plans in place to address vaccine status documentation and tracking.
The new Phase 2 compliance deadline is March 15, 2022. By this date, all staff—who have not received a medical or religious exemption—should have received a full round of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Beginning with each of these compliance deadlines, surveyors will begin assessing facility compliance with the vaccine mandate. Citations for noncompliance could include immediate jeopardy and conditional or standard noncompliance with an opportunity to return to substantial compliance. Ultimately, if facilities fail to comply after the opportunity for correction, they could be facing civil monetary penalties, denial of payment or even termination from participation in Medicare or Medicaid.
If you have questions regarding the new CMS regulations, please contact Karen S. Rieger, Maggie K. Martin, Michael W. Bowling or another Crowe & Dunlevy attorney.