The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a proposal that requires Medicare and Medicaid providers and suppliers to offer all patients an annual influenza vaccination. Although medical facilities would encourage vaccine administration, the patient, the patient’s surrogate, or the patient’s doctor could still decline the vaccination. The proposed rule also requires Medicare and Medicaid providers and suppliers to develop procedures for vaccine distribution and administration in preparation for future pandemics that may break out.
The proposal would apply to all hospitals that participate in Medicare, critical access hospitals, end-stage renal disease facilities, rural health clinics, and federally qualified health centers. CMS chose these suppliers and providers because each employs staff licensed to provide vaccinations and because each already possesses equipment and storage that could accommodate additional vaccines.
CMS hopes the rule will increase the number of vaccinations administered annually in order to reduce the influenza mortality rates. According to a CDC publication, “Influenza and pneumococcal disease kill more people in the United States each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.” Although many diseases have been eradicated among children through the use of vaccines, vaccine-preventable deaths still plague adults.
As part of the proposed program, CMS would require qualifying hospitals and healthcare facilities to educate patients and their surrogates regarding the benefits of vaccinations. CMS hopes such efforts will encourage patients to return for future vaccinations each year. For additional information, click here. –Christopher L. McLean