Wisconsin Department Of Health Services Answers Questions About The CMS Vaccination Mandate
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On November 23, 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health
Services (DHS) conducted a live webinar to answer questions
surrounding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate scheduled to take effect December 6,
The most frequently asked question among providers was,
“Does the vaccine mandate apply to our facility?” The
response by DHS was consistent that if your facility or provider
type bills Medicare via a CMS Certification Number, the CMS
vaccination mandate applies to you. The provider types specifically
exempted from the mandate include, standalone personal care
agencies, assisted living facilities, physician offices, outpatient
mental and behavioral health clinics and non-certified home and
community-based service providers.
As of December 5, 2021, covered providers should have the
following three items documented:
- A process or plan to vaccinate staff with the first dose
administered on or before December 6, 2021, and the second dose,
other than the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, administered
no later than January 4, 2022;
- A plan for medical or religious exemptions and accommodations
for those granted such an exemption; and
- A plan for tracking and documenting staff vaccinations.
Although no official guidance from CMS has been received thus
far by DHS related to enforcement of the vaccine mandate, DHS did
say that enforcement of the above three requirements will commence
January 5, 2022, via recertification and complaint surveys.
Interpretive guidelines on enforcement will be issued by CMS and
providers found out of compliance can expect a citation of varying
scope and severity (based on the degree of noncompliance) and
possibly Civil Monetary Penalties, Denial of Payment for New
Admissions, and possibly termination from the Medicaid or Medicaid
Another popular question asked was to which staff the vaccine
mandate will apply. DHS responded “all eligible staff,”
meaning all staff that provide care, treatment and services to
include students, trainees, volunteers and contracted staff. All
offsite staff are included with the exception of full-time
teleworkers. While DHS stated that contracted employees such as
plumbers would be included, a recently updated CMS Vaccination Mandate FAQ
document states that vendors, volunteers or professionals
providing infrequent or ad hoc non-health care services onsite or
exclusively offsite would not require vaccinations.
Exemptions from the mandate and accommodations for the
unvaccinated were also discussed. It will be up to the
provider to ensure it has documentation of a granted exemption
whether from its own employees or those from an outside agency,
such as a staffing agency. DHS believes that CMS will not
require the state surveyors to evaluate the granted exemptions,
just verify that staff is either vaccinated or has a documented
exemption. Providers were directed to consult the federal
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website for more
information on granting exemptions.
Finally, there were questions about new hires after December 6,
2021. DHS responded that for new hires after December 6, 2021,
they need to be vaccinated and have their first dose prior to
providing resident/patient care.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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