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Healthcare Roundup: CA Rethinking Nursing Home Funding, High Court Okays NY Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate & More

December 17, 2021

Nursing Home COVID Death Toll Prompting Funding Change in CA:

With nearly 9,400 California nursing home residents having died of COVID-19 - roughly 13 percent of the total number of Californians claimed by the virus - the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is working on a proposal that would tie state nursing home funding more closely to performance. Facilities that meet the state’s new quality standards would receive more funding than those that do not. Precisely which metrics the state would use to measure quality, such as pay, staffing levels, or turnover, won’t be determined until the Legislature meets to negotiate the state budget. And the nursing home industry is vowing to oppose any effort to tie Medicaid payments to such metrics. (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

SCOTUS Lets NY Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate Stand:

With an unsigned order that gave no explanation for its decision -- as is often the case with rulings issued in response to emergency applications - the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, even those with religious objections. In October the court refused a virtually identical request from healthcare workers in Maine. (NEW YORK TIMES)

Disparity Between Expected, Actual Impact of Vaccine Mandates on Rural Wisconsin Hospital Workforce:

A recent survey conducted by Wisconsin’s Office of Rural Health found that rural hospitals in the state that hadn’t implemented COVID-19 vaccine mandates estimated that doing so would lose over 20 percent of their workforce due to resignations, while those that did impose such mandates said they actually lost 4 percent or less of their employees, including non-medical staff like janitors and cafeteria workers, as a result. While that disparity suggests hospitals that didn’t impose vaccine mandates overestimated their workforce impact, John Eich, director of the Office of Rural Health, said another possible explanation is that the hospitals that have been most reluctant to impose mandates are those with the most vaccine-resistant workers. (WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO, WISCONSIN OFFICE OF RURAL HEALTH)

COVID Drives Up Healthcare Spending Nearly 10%:

Spending on healthcare in the United States jumped 9.7 percent, to $4.1 trillion, last year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The increase, due mainly to federal COVID-19 relief spending, was 5 percent higher than in 2019 and constitutes the largest rise in U.S. healthcare spending since 2002. (MODERN HEALTHCARE, KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

Looser Vaccine Mandate for CT Prison Medical Staff:

Medical staff who work for Connecticut’s Department of Corrections are free to opt for weekly testing instead of being vaccinated for COVID-19. Under Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) executive order, most healthcare workers at other state departments, including Veteran’s Affairs, Developmental Services, and Mental Health and Addiction Services, need a medical or religious exemption approved by the state in order to choose the weekly testing option. (CONNECTICUT MIRROR [HARTFORD])

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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