CMS: No test-out option for health worker vax mandate – McKnight’s Long Term Care News

Midsection of female doctor with swab test sample during COVID-19 crisis. Female medical professional is holding test tube in hospital. She is wearing protective suit.
Credit: Morsa Images/Getty Images Plus

Healthcare workers may seek a medical or religious exemption under the new emergency federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate, but a test opt-out does not exist, a top Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services official told McKnight’s on Thursday.

This is in contrast to a separate vaccination mandate for employers of 100 or more from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which was issued in tandem with the healthcare facilities rule early Thursday morning. The OSHA regulation governs some 84 million workers, while the new CMS condition of participation will pertain to 17 million healthcare workers. 

The compliance deadline is Jan. 4 for both new rules. 

“We felt that based on the best evidence, based upon CDC guidance, based upon the fact that rules that govern healthcare workers that interact with patients … we felt that the best policy driven by evidence, driven by CDC guidance, is to require healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated, rather than have that testing option,” explained CMS principal