Close-up image of vaccination being given in upper arm of older individual
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is eyeing a new measure that would require skilled nursing facilities to report flu vaccination rates among workers. 

The proposal for the Quality Reporting Program was included in the agency’s SNF Prospective Payment System proposed rule released Monday.

CMS explained that the measure was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It would require providers to report the percentage of healthcare personnel who received a flu vaccine anytime from when it first became available through March 31 of the following year.

SNFs would have to submit data through CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, if the measure is adopted. The initial data submission period would be from Oct. 1, 2022 through March 31, 2023. The submitted data would also be displayed on CMS’ Care Compare website. Under the SNF QRP, facilities that don’t meet reporting requirements may be subject to a 2% reduction in its annual rate update. 

An October CDC study found that flu vaccination coverage among long-term care and home health staff was around 66%, which was the lowest among all healthcare personnel. 

The agency said it believes the new SNF QRP measure has the “potential to increase influenza vaccine coverage” in facilities given that coverage is typically lower in long-term care settings when compared to other healthcare sectors. CMS added the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the importance of implementing infection prevention strategies, which includes the promotion of the flu vaccine. 

“Residents of long-term care facilities, who are often of older age, have greater susceptibility for acquiring influenza due to general frailty and comorbidities, close contact with other residents, interactions with visitors, and exposure to staff who rotate between multiple facilities,” the agency wrote. 

It added that monitoring and reporting influenza vaccination rates among healthcare workers is important as they also are at risk for acquiring influenza from residents or spreading it to residents.

CMS is also considering a new quality measure that would assess whether SNF residents were up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.

The agency in Monday’s 256-page proposed rule put out a request for information [RFI] on the value of a COVID-19 vaccination coverage measure for SNF residents.

“While we will not be responding to specific comments submitted in response to this RFI in the FY 2023 SNF PPS final rule, we intend to use this input to inform our future measure development efforts,” CMS reported. 

CMS is accepting comments on Monday’s 256-page proposed pay rule until June 10.