Trouble on the Horizon?
For those with intellectual and developmental disabilities or providers offering care management, the COVID-19 vaccine mandates could spell trouble. That’s because the mandate impacts all aspects of healthcare, including medical health, mental health, home healthcare, and more.
The Reasons Behind the Mandate
Experts say the Delta variant is more transmissible than its original counterpart. Indeed, hospitals in various states recently received an influx of COVID-19 related cases, many of which consist of unvaccinated patients. Accordingly, President Biden surmises the country can only achieve greater vaccination rates through vaccine mandates. He further explained his rationale behind the mandates, proposing that a greater vaccinated population would result in fewer hospitalizations and deaths. Moreover, he suggested that while it may take some time, he wants children to attend school safely, and businesses to stay open to support the economy.
Details of the Requirements
In the announcement, President Biden mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for all federal employees and contractors. Additionally, he authorized anyone participating in Medicaid or Medicare to get the jab, too. The mandate includes hospital workers, health care workers, home health agencies, and more. However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reportedly told disability advocates that the mandate would not require those providing home and community-based services. Still, questions remain.
For instance, what should organizations with more than 100 employees who participate in Medicare or Medicaid expect? On the one hand, they may avoid the federal employee mandate. On the other hand, they may fall into the 100 or more employee requirement, which the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will oversee. Unvaccinated employees may be able to get by with weekly testing to bypass the vaccine mandates.
Home Healthcare Disproportionately Impacted
A representative of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) recently expressed dismay at the mandates. The spokesman lamented the recruiting challenges that the group, which represents disability service providers all over the U.S., already experiences. In other words, meeting the demand for home healthcare needs is already a challenge. Moreover, the home healthcare workforce is a population with lower vaccination rates than other populations. Consequently, the vaccine mandates could put even more pressure on an increasingly difficult situation.
While details remain unclear currently, we expect some clarity in the days ahead.
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