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New vaccine mandate is putting pressure on nursing homes

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:22 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - President Joe Biden’s recent announcement that all nursing home workers would be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine is aimed at protecting America’s most vulnerable population.

There are some unintended consequences, however. This mandate is putting a lot of stress and pressure on nursing homes.

“Once this mandate is implemented, is that going to end up driving staff away from our setting and maybe go to other settings?” asked Jeff Bowman, and administrator at Bethel Manor.

“There’s a lot of questions,” said Bowman. “They made this announcement that it’s going to mandated or you lose your federal funding, but if you hire a new staff member who is not yet vaccinated but planning to get vaccinated in a month, are you going to lose your funding then?”

Bowman says the staff at Bethel Manor is around 75 percent vaccinated, but some facilities in the Tri-State have numbers as low as 25 percent.

One of the biggest questions of the impending mandate is how will funding be effected if nursing homes cannot get to a 100 percent vaccination threshold?

“Most nursing homes probably 75 percent or so of their funding comes from billing Medicare, Medicaid,” added Bowman. “That’s the insurance used by the population we take care of.”

Bowman said that he definitely understands why the vaccine is being mandated in nursing homes, saying that it is the best defense for the residents, staff and visitors.

There is no set date for when employees will need to be fully vaccinated, but the expectation is the mandate will begin sometime next month.

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