Vaccine mandate might affect EMS providers in more than half of U.S.

Medicare- and Medicaid-certified hospitals and other facilities could insist that ambulance service staffers must be vaccinated


By Leila Merrill

BALTIMORE, Md. — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued new guidance Tuesday that may affect EMS providers, though they were not directly included in the announcement.

The new guidance establishes requirements regarding COVID-19 vaccine immunization of staff members with Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers.

Medicare- and Medicaid-certified hospitals and other facilities may take the position that EMS providers who enter their sites need to be vaccinated.
Medicare- and Medicaid-certified hospitals and other facilities may take the position that EMS providers who enter their sites need to be vaccinated.

The guidance does not directly include EMS agencies, but the rules do require hospitals, hospices and other organizations to require COVID-19 vaccines for "individuals who provide care, treatment, or other services for the facility and/or its patients, under contract or by other arrangement." There is a possibility that most hospices, hospitals or other facilities will take the position that ambulance service staffers must be vaccinated to come into the facility to provide care, Page, Wolfberg & Wirth said.

The guidance will be enforced in 25 states plus the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories with a phased-in 30/60/90-day enforcement approach.

Currently, 25 other states are challenging the mandate, which will not be enforced in those areas for now. Those states include: 

  • Alabama; 
  • Alaska;
  • Arizona;
  • Arkansas;
  • Georgia;
  • Idaho;
  • Indiana;
  • Iowa;
  • Kansas;
  • Kentucky;
  • Louisiana;
  • Mississippi;
  • Missouri;
  • Montana;
  • Nebraska;
  • New Hampshire;
  • North Dakota;
  • Ohio;
  • Oklahoma;
  • South Carolina;
  • South Dakota;
  • Texas;
  • Utah;
  • West Virginia; and
  • Wyoming.

The first deadline is on Jan. 27. By that date, facilities are required to show that they have policies and procedures are in effect to ensure all staffers are vaccinated, all staffers have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or have a pending request for, or have been granted qualifying exemption, or have been identified as having a temporary delay as recommended by the CDC.

According to the government agency, a facility that is above 80% in compliance and has a plan to achieve a 100% staff vaccination rate within 60 days would not be subject to additional enforcement action. Facilities that fall below 80% would be subject to enforcement actions.

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