WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that nursing homes and long-term care facilities must fully vaccinate their staff against Covid-19 or risk losing federal funding.
Speaking from the White House, Biden spoke about lagging vaccination rates and said he is taking this step to ensure more people get vaccinated if they want to continue to receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.
“With this announcement, I am using the power of the federal government, as a payer of health care costs, to ensure and reduce those risks to the most vulnerable seniors,” Biden said. “These steps are all about keeping people safe and out of harm’s way.”
Medicare and Medicaid funding affects 15,000 nursing homes and more than 1.3 million employees, according to a White House official.
Federal data shows 60% of nursing home staff and around 82% of residents had been vaccinated. However, around 664,815 nursing home and long-term care residents have contracted Covid and 133,631 died, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“The studies show that highly vaccinated nursing home staffs are associated with at least 30% less COVID-19 cases in long-term care residents,” Biden added.
The news comes amid another surge as the Delta variant continues to surge throughout the country in unvaccinated communities. The President has been looking to do whatever he can to put pressure on Americans to get vaccinated.
“While I am mindful that my authority at the federal level is limited, I am going to continue to look for ways to keep people safe and increase vaccination rates,” Biden said.
The President previously announced he would require all health care and nursing home workers with the Veterans Affairs Administration to be vaccinated and federal employees get vaccinated or undergo routine testing.
Biden also announced he will direct the Department of Education to use its legal authority against Republican governors who are attempting to block local school officials from requiring students to wear masks.
“We’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children,” he said.
Over the past few weeks, several Republican governors signed executive orders or enacted laws to prevent local officials from imposing new mask mandates.
The President added educators can use the emergency Covid funding included in the American Rescue Plan could be used to cover salary if their pay was cut for requiring masks in their classroom.