PA Health Care Association responds to President’s Nursing Home Vaccine Mandate

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association, a statewide advocacy organization representing Pennsylvania nursing homes responded to President Biden’s nursing home vaccine mandate.  The President said he is directing all nursing homes to require staff be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding.

“If you visit, live or work in a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk for contracting COVID from unvaccinated employees,” Biden said.

The new mandate, in the form of a forthcoming regulation to be issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, could take effect as soon as next month.

Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association issued this statement:

“After seventeen months of providing tireless care at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term care continues to face a troubling trend of federal and state governments threatening and punishing the same healthcare heroes they once supported and rallied behind.

“As the heroic effort to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable seniors continues, we are calling on elected leaders to support our providers – who are persistently educating workers about the vaccine – rather than threaten to hinder and harm the critical care they provide.

“The vaccine mandate proposed by President Biden – and the threat of withholding federal dollars for an essential industry already on the brink of collapse – has the potential to exacerbate an existing workforce crisis and jeopardize access to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable residents throughout Pennsylvania. Providers are already being forced to limit new admissions.

“Assistance and collaboration – not threats or punishment – will lead to success and sustainability in long-term care, whether it’s solving a workforce crisis or increasing vaccine acceptance rates amongst staff.”

A June survey, conducted by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, revealed that 94% of Pennsylvania respondents had a staffing shortage in the month prior, on more than one occasion, where providers could not fill all of their shifts without agency staffing or asking people to work overtime or extra shifts.

The statement can be attributed to Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association.

“After seventeen months of providing tireless care at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term care continues to face a troubling trend of federal and state governments threatening and punishing the same healthcare heroes they once supported and rallied behind.

“As the heroic effort to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable seniors continues, we are calling on elected leaders to support our providers – who are persistently educating workers about the vaccine – rather than threaten to hinder and harm the critical care they provide.

“The vaccine mandate proposed today by President Biden – and the threat of withholding federal dollars for an essential industry already on the brink of collapse – has the potential to exacerbate an existing workforce crisis and jeopardize access to care for tens of thousands of vulnerable residents throughout Pennsylvania. Providers are already being forced to limit new admissions.

“That, too, should be a concerning trend.

“Unfortunately, today, providers were given a clear choice by the President: risk losing essential frontline workers, or risk the state and federal reimbursement it will take to compensate those workers.

“The Pennsylvania Health Care Association continues its longstanding call for state and federal leaders to support our long-term care providers, healthcare heroes and the residents they serve as we monitor the rise of COVID-19 cases in our surrounding communities. 

“Assistance and collaboration – not threats or punishment – will lead to success and sustainability in long-term care, whether it’s solving a workforce crisis or increasing vaccine acceptance rates amongst staff.”

A June survey, conducted by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, revealed that 94% of Pennsylvania respondents had a staffing shortage in the month prior, on more than one occasion, where providers could not fill all of their shifts without agency staffing or asking people to work overtime or extra shifts.