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| 1 minute read

CMS Ill-Equipped to Enforce COVID Vaccination Requirements for Health Care Workers - Non-Compliance Carries Regulatory and Legal Risks

Politico published a study which revealed that many hospitals have not adopted and/or enforced a CMS requirement that health care workers must obtain a COVID vaccination and, if eligible for a religious or medical exemption, must abide by infection control policies such as periodic testing and masking. 

CMS claims that while enforcement was somewhat lacks early on in the pandemic, more compliance investigations have been conducted and hospitals cited for violating the vaccination/infection control requirements. 

In some states, such as Illinois, governors have issued executive orders which mirror the CMS requirements and actually require that non-compliant health care personnel be barred from being able to come to the hospital campus. In many states, enforcement has been left to its Department of Public Health.  And while both the CMS and state vaccination requirements allow for medical and religious exemptions, for which the bar seems very low at some hospitals, other hospitals have successfully defeated legal challenges to their refusal to allow for religious exemptions. 

Hospitals which fail to adopt and/or uniformly enforce these COVID vaccination/infection control policies do so at their own risk. Aside from sustaining civil fines from regulatory agencies, continued non-compliance can result in loss of licensure, Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement eligibility, and accreditation. Moreover, there already are many lawsuits filed against hospitals by patients who have claimed to have contracted COVID and suffered resulting injuries due to unmasked, unvaccinated and untested hospital employees. In light of the CMS vaccination requirement which recently was deemed enforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court, these injured patients will have an even stronger argument on which to base their claims. 

“I don’t really truly have a religious exemption,” Kornman, 62, told POLITICO. “Taking the vaccine, for all intents and purposes, has been optional.”


health care