Biden to require vaccines for staff at federally funded nursing homes

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday will announce a plan to require Covid-19 vaccinations for staff in federally funded nursing homes — and withhold money for facilities that don't comply with the policy, two senior administration officials confirmed to POLITICO.

It's the first time the White House has used the threat of holding back federal funding to boost vaccination rates and will impact roughly 15,000 nursing homes employing 1.3 million people. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will issue an emergency regulation in September.

While Biden officials for months have encouraged vaccinations and backed states’ various incentives for shot recipients, the mandate would be a significant pivot toward penalizing facilities without requirements. The president will direct CMS to make employee vaccination a condition of funding for nursing homes.

The administration floated a vaccine order earlier this month, earning swift criticism from Republicans and industry groups who warned they would oppose the plan.

The president will unveil the order in remarks on the need for Covid-19 boosters in the broader population amid the ongoing surge fueled by the Delta variant, which now accounts for nearly every new Covid-19 case in the country.

CNN first reported the president’s announcement.

The health department would still need to develop and finalize the new regulations slated for next month. Just 60 percent of nursing home staff are vaccinated against Covid-19 currently, according to the agency.

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released on Wednesday showed a significant drop in vaccine effectiveness among nursing home residents in particular, compounding concerns that the most vulnerable could remain at heightened risk as long as the virus is circulating around them.

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