Friday, August 20th 2021, 2:07 pm
Nursing homes across the state of Oklahoma have some major concerns.
"President Biden's new mandate is setting up the nursing home profession…for an unprecedented catastrophe," said Steven Buck, the President and CEO of Care Providers Oklahoma.
President Joe Biden announced this week, that nursing home employees nationwide must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing federal Medicaid and Medicare funding.
"The core reimbursement for nursing homes is Medicaid," said Buck.
Care Providers Oklahoma is a group that represents nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities across the state. Buck says while they are encouraging vaccinations and want them to be higher, only 49% of skilled nursing staff statewide are vaccinated.
"Our on the ground assessment is that a significant portion of the unvaccinated nursing home staff will refuse to be vaccinated and instead find other jobs," said Buck.
Buck says the industry already struggles to find employees and this mandate would put the state in an even bigger staffing crisis, and force some facilities to close or kick out seniors.
President Biden though says he's requiring the mandate for a reason.
"Studies show that highly vaccinated nursing home staff is associated with at least 30 percent less COVID-19 cases,” said Biden.
The mandate though does not apply to contractors or visitors. And Buck says in Oklahoma, with high resident vaccination rates, only 2.4% of all COVID-19 cases this year have been in nursing homes.
He hopes the administration reconsiders.
"There needs to be people available to serve these seniors," said Buck.
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