Breaking News: CMS Issues Emergency Regulation Requiring Vaccination for Healthcare Workers

11.04.2021 Written by Norris Cunningham, Angela Rinehart

On September 9, 2021 President Joe Biden announced that the CDC “…is taking action to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement…"1 This was to include hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, home health agencies, and more.2 President Biden previously announced that long term care facilities would be required to mandate vaccinations for its staff on August 18, 2021. The White House announced that “[t]his action will create a consistent standard across the country, while giving patients assurance of the vaccination status of those delivering care.”3

The proposed rule requires facilities covered by this emergency regulation to establish a policy ensuring all eligible staff have received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to providing any care, treatment, or other services. The vaccination must be received (or started) no later than December 5, 2021. Of importance is that this vaccine requirement does not just apply to direct-care staff. It also requires all eligible staff to have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022. The regulation does provide for exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances, or practices. CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) will ensure compliance with the regulation through surveys and enforcement procedures. This rule applies only to health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. It does not apply to other health care entities, such as physician offices, that are not regulated by CMS.

The emergency regulation must go through formal public comment period as required under the emergency rulemaking process. The regulation will be formally published on November 5, 2021. To be assured consideration, any comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. 60 days from the date of publication in the federal register. Public comments may be submitted electronically to, by regular mail to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3415-IFC, P.O. Box 8016, Baltimore, MD 21244-8016, or by express or overnight mail to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3415-IFC, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

Read the full press release here. A copy of the unpublished regulation can be found here.

1 Path Out of the Pandemic, The White House,
2 Id.
3 Id.