Several States Issue COVID Vaccine Mandates: HCAOA Chapters Seeking Clarification on Requirements for Home Care
Several states have recently announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers, and HCAOA and state chapters are working with state officials to clarify how these mandates impact home care. For example, mandates in Washington, California, and New York do not include home care in some settings, while the order in New Jersey does include home care.
New Jersey’s governor issued an executive order requiring employees working in certain “covered settings” to be vaccinated or be tested for COVID-19 “at minimum one to two times weekly.” The order lists two classes of covered settings: Health Care Facilities and High-Risk Congregate Settings. Registered Health Care Service Firms (HCSF), which include home care agencies, are included in the definition of “Health Care Facilities” and therefore these mandates apply to all HCSFs and their caregivers, nurses and internal staff. The HCAOA New Jersey Chapter is working with state officials to get further clarification.
In California, the State Health Officer issued a Public Health Order stating that those working in facilities with acute health care, long-term care, high-risk congregate settings, and other health care settings must verify vaccine status. Those workers who are not fully vaccinated will be subject to, at a minimum, weekly COVID-19 testing. Jennifer Niklas, Chief of the Home Care Services Bureau, California Department of Social Services, reached out to the HCAOA California Chapter to confirm that the Order does not directly impact Home Care Organizations. However, the order may affect Home Care Aides that work, or are contracted to work, in facilities. The Chapter is awaiting further guidance.
On the flipside, the HCAOA Washington Chapter/WAHCA recently met with representatives from the Department of Health to seek clarification about the requirements for In-Home Services Providers under the Governor's Proclamation for COVID-19 Vaccinations (21-14). In an FAQ document released this week, the DOH confirmed that the proclamation does not apply to the categories of individuals who provide only personal care services in a client or patient’s home, however home care aides working in health care settings outside clients’ or patients’ home, such as facilities, must meet the requirement.
Earlier this week, New York announced that all health care workers in the state are now required to by vaccinated by September 27. However, while the announcement listed nursing homes, adult care, long-term care facilities and hospital workers, it did not specifically mention home care.
For home care providers working with government agencies like Medicaid, regulations are especially muddy. HCAOA will continue to monitor this ever-changing situation to provide the most up-to-date information for our members.