Michael Airdo and Mollie Werwas recently presented to a group of long-term care facility clients regarding the new CMS Rule that took effect on November 5, 2021. This Rule requires staff at all facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022. The presentation addressed the requirements of the new CMS Rule, including as compared to Governor Pritzker’s August 26, 2021, Executive Order that mandated vaccination of health care workers in Illinois. Michael and Mollie highlighted the fact that the new CMS Rule includes no option for regular testing in lieu of vaccination, and, instead, makes exceptions only for those employees who qualify only for a medical or religious exemption. They also addressed the acceptable legal bases for employees to claim either a medical or religious exemption, best practices for evaluating such requests, and an employer’s rights in determining reasonable accommodations for exempt employees. Finally, Michael and Mollie provided guidance for those health care facilities that may not be subject to the CMS Rule, but are required to abide by the OSHA Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard issued on June 21, 2021.
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