man rolling up sleeve, nurse preparing shot

Frustration is mounting for home care and hospice agencies as they wait for the Biden administration to offer clues about how the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate will be implemented.

Vicki Hoak, HCAOA

“At this point, the Home Care Association of America and its members have many unanswered questions about this pending interim rule mandating vaccines, such as permissible exemptions, testing costs, documentation, and how employee counts will be calculated,” HCAOA Executive Director Vicki Hoak told McKnight’s Home Care Daily in an email. “Until the rule is published, we won’t really know the true impact this will have on home care organizations.” 

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization President and CEO Edo Banach told McKnight’s Home Care Daily his organization has been trying to get administration guidance on the mandate.

“Among our membership, there are a number of concerns and we continue to gather feedback to inform our discussions with the administration to ensure the mandate is implemented in the best possible way,” Banach said in a statement.

Testing costs covered?

Angelo Spinola, an employment attorney for Polsinelli LLC, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily employers typically cover the costs of testing, but he couldn’t speculate on whether that would happen with the COVID-19 vaccine or where testing will take place.

“We think it does make sense to have these services available on-site to make it as easy as possible,” Spinola said in an email. “Keep in mind that there are unique and additional rules that apply when the employer is the provider administering the vaccine.”

Dallas-based healthcare consultant Medcillary is ready to step in and help businesses provide on-site testing and vaccinations. Medcillary CEO Jon Boski told McKnight’s Home Care Daily his firm could set up pop-up COVID-19 vaccination and testing at businesses, similar to wellness tests it provides for corporate clients.

“We have the system in place and all it takes is trained clinical staff and utilizing our managers that we have to roll this out,” Boski explained. 

Clarifications pending

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to announce a final rule on the vaccine mandate for healthcare providers next month. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is expected to announce rules for businesses with more than 100 employees around the same time.