CMS Expanding Efforts to Grow COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Uptake Amongst Nation’s Most Vulnerable

CMS Builds on Whole-of-Government COVID-19 Response with Vaccination Education, Offering, and Reporting

As part of the ongoing response to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to improve health care access and reduce the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, CMS issued a rule that will ensure long-term care facilities, and residential facilities serving clients with intellectual disabilities, educate and offer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents, clients, and staff. These requirements apply to Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs-IID) and align with existing requirements for influenza and pneumococcal vaccines in LTC facilities.

The rule also requires LTC facilities to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination status data for both residents and staff. The new vaccination reporting requirement will not only assist in monitoring uptake amongst residents and staff but will also aid in identifying facilities that may be in need of additional resources and/or assistance to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These new requirements reinforce CMS’ commitment of ensuring equitable vaccine access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Dr. Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ). “Today’s announcement directly aids nursing home residents and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Our goal is to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and acceptance among these individuals and the staff who serve them.”

To ensure LTC facilities receive support for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, they are now required to report weekly vaccination data of residents and staff to the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the nation’s most widely used healthcare-associated infection tracking system. LTC facilities are already required to report COVID-19 testing, case, and mortality data to the NHSN for residents and staff but have not been required to report vaccination data. As data becomes available, CMS will post facility-specific vaccination status information reported to the NHSN for viewing by facilities, stakeholders, and the public on CMS’ COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.

While this announcement is specific to LTC facilities and ICFs-IID, CMS is also seeking comment on opportunities to expand these policies to help encourage vaccine uptake and access in other congregate care settings, such as psychiatric residential treatment facilities, group homes, and assisted living facilities. By requiring vaccine education and offering within LTC facilities and ICFs-IIDs, CMS is improving health care access and reducing the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

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Elevating the Medicaid Enrollment Experience EMEE Voices Project

The Elevating Medicaid Enrollment Experience (EMEE) is a project executed by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, seeking ways to support administrative policies that will increase qualified West Virginians’ access to Medicaid. While federal and state agencies have worked for decades to improve the program, there are still gaps in Medicaid that require further investigation to ensure equitable access. EMEE is hosted by the Center on Budget and Policy across several states, such as Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. It hopes to work alongside existing networks and coalitions to allow localized experiences to generate policy discussions within each respective state.

Within the EMEE project is EMEE Voices, which centers around lived experiences as data. In partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, EMEE Voices will collect stories to inform which Medicaid barriers are most pertinent to West Virginians of color. Existing data asserts that structural barriers and stigma impact Black and brown West Virginians’ interactions with the program. However, more precise investigation is necessary for transforming these disparities into meaningful policy choices. Overall, this project will synthesize quantitative data from various sources, such as DHHR and national databases, and qualitative data, primarily storytelling and survey collection, to provide a holistic understanding of Medicaid barriers. Addressing the obstacles West Virginians of color face will improve Medicaid for all West Virginians, contributing to a healthier state. 

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Learn How to Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

Learn How to Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) will host a Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence webinar on Thursday, May 13 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET.

Dr. LaShawn McIver, Director of CMS OMH, will share information and resources to help you address vaccine hesitancy in your community. Dr. McIver will be joined by Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at FDA, who will give an overview of vaccines and their safety. This webinar will equip you to speak persuasively about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Following the presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and share ideas related to vaccine confidence.

Webinar Details

Title: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

Dates and Time: Thursday, May 13, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET.

Register: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6555661473692736014

Please note: You will receive an email with login information from GoToWebinar upon registration. If you do not receive an email in a few days’ time, please contact CMSOMHTeam@ketchum.com

COVID-19 Update: FDA Revoked the EUA for Bamlanivimab When Administered Alone

COVID-19 Update: FDA Revoked the EUA for Bamlanivimab When Administered Alone

On April 16, the FDA revoked the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for bamlanivimab, when administered alone, due to a sustained increase in COVID-19 viral variants in the U.S. that are resistant to this antibody therapy. The FDA determined that the known and potential benefits of bamlanivimab, when administered alone, no longer outweigh the known and potential risks.

Medicare will cover and pay for bamlanivimab, when administered alone, for dates of service from November 10, 2020 – April 16, 2021.

The FDA indicates that alternative monoclonal antibody therapies remain appropriate to treat COVID-19 patients, and health care providers may continue using these authorized therapies when administered together:

  • Casirivimab & imdevimab
  • Bamlanivimab & etesevimab

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