Nursing homes could soon be required to report their COVID-19 vaccination data to the federal government if a request from a bipartisan group of lawmakers is granted by President Joe Biden’s administration.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee issued the plea Wednesday in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra that asks the administration to collect and publicly report facility-level data on COVID-19 vaccinations at nursing homes.
The lawmakers noted that nursing homes only submit vaccination information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a voluntary basis. They want HHS to require providers to report their vaccination data directly to the CDC and have that information published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Providers in late April were mandated to report COVID-19 infections and deaths directly to the CDC through the National Healthcare Safety Network or face steep penalties.
The lawmakers wrote that the “continued absence of publicly available COVID-19 vaccination information at the facility level leaves residents, workers, and their families in the dark, makes it impossible to fully evaluate the effect of these vaccines, and hinders efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access for communities of color.” The lawmaker group includes Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tim Scott (R-SC).
The letter also calls on HHS to direct CMS and the CDC to release existing COVID-19 vaccination data that was voluntary reported by nursing homes, require the data to be included in Minimum Data Set reporting requirements and displayed on Care Compare, and leverage existing datasets and forms to collect data on racial and ethnic health disparities in nursing homes.
“Reliable and updated information will also help individuals and families assess the risk of COVID-19 spreading within a facility,” the lawmakers argued. “Making vaccination data public will also help researchers and policymakers analyze issues such as the speed and equity of vaccine distribution, and the vaccine’s role in reducing disease and death in nursing homes.”