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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Area nursing homes say they will comply with President Joe Biden’s announcement to vaccinate all of their staff to qualify for receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Biden said the federal government pays a lot of healthcare costs for seniors and he’s using that leverage to try to reduce risks for the most vulnerable in nursing homes.

The Delta variant continues to fuel a surge in coronavirus infections across the nation, and the Department of Health and Human Services is now going to make funding for nursing homes contingent on a home’s staff being vaccinated.

This would affect more than 15,000 nursing homes nationwide, which have about 1.3 million workers.
At John Knox Village, the vice president of health and community services says he supports the president’s action.

“This is something we have been discussing internally for weeks now,” Anthony Columbatto said. “But it is a very nuanced issue because while we want to ensure that our residents are very protected from the virus, we do have other concerns. And losing staff when we are already experiencing a nationwide nursing shortage does create some complications.”

The American Health Care Association says vaccination mandates should apply to all health care environments, or nursing homes may lose unvaccinated workers to other health care jobs where there isn’t a vaccination requirement.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 82% of nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, but only six out of 10 workers have received the vaccine.

Unvaccinated employees put nursing home residents at risk because they work so closely with these seniors.