(FiveNation.com)- Nursing homes across the country could lose federal funding if all of their staff doesn’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said the federal government will require every nursing home to have all of its staff vaccinated. Those that don’t achieve 100% vaccination among staff could lose eligibility to participate in the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs.
The Department of Health and Human Services will soon create new regulations that make vaccination of employees a condition for any nursing home that wishes to participate in the two federal programs.
In a speech he gave at the White House, the president said:
“Now, if you visit, live or work at a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk of contracting COVID from unvaccinated employees. While I’m mindful that my authority at the federal government is limited, I’m going to continue to look for ways to keep people safe and increase vaccination rates.”
But, Biden isn’t stopping there at exerting his power. He’s also directing Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education, to use “all of his oversight authorities and legal action, if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators” who are working to have kids wear face masks while they’re in school.
That statement is probably a veiled threat at Republican governors such as Ron DeSantis in Florida. He and his education department have already sanctioned some local school districts that have imposed mask mandates that go against his statewide executive order banning them.
DeSantis has even threatened to hold state funding and even possible salaries from superintendents and other local officials who refuse to abide by his executive order.
In response, Biden said he may consider using funds from the American Rescue Plan to pay for these educators’ salaries if a state or local government cuts their income because of a mask mandate.
The Biden administration is very concerned about the spreading Delta variant. Officials with the administration say they are doing everything they can to stop the spread before it gets even worse, as the country heads into the fall.
One senior official on the administration’s COVID-19 response team, Carole Johnson, told CNN recently:
“As we see the spread of Delta and the threat of COVID cases, it is really especially important that we ensure that those caring for our most vulnerable are vaccinated.”
The Delta variant currently accounts for just about every new COVID-19 infection in the U.S. Some of this surge is due to unvaccinated people who work in nursing homes who eventually spread the disease to residents of these facilities.
Biden’s new restrictions could end up being in effect before the end of August. Johnson, though, will work with nursing home owners, unions and employees to try to increase vaccinations among staff before the regulations even go into effect.