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Ohio Nursing Homes Brace For Loss Of Staff And Possible Closures Due To New Federal Mandate

Patient on walker with nurse alongside
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Patient walks on walker with help of nursing staffer

The lobbying group for those facilities warns a new requirement that staff is vaccinated will have unintended consequences.

Nearly half of the employees in Ohio’s nursing homes have not been vaccinated. President Biden has announced all staff at nursing homes must be vaccinated in order for the facilities to continue receiving Medicaid or Medicare payments. But as Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reports, there’s a concern that order could actually do more harm than good.

The president of the state’s nursing homes lobbying group says the places he represents are concerned.

“Taking away Medicaid and Medicare is a death sentence for most facilities,” says Pete Van Runkle.

Ohio Health Care Association President Pete Van Runkle says, on average, nursing homes are already 10% short-staffed because there aren’t enough employees to work lower-wage jobs in those facilities.

“The reality is there will be some percentage that just are not going to do it. They are opposed to vaccination, or COVID vaccination and basically, they are not going to do it and will go get a job elsewhere so it is the patients who will pay the price,” Van Runkle says.

Van Runkle says nursing homes in rural areas will be hit the hardest and some could close if they lose the federal funding.

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