Nursing home stakeholders in Connecticut are calling on the state to take a deeper look into facilities’ compliance with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate and reporting requirements in response to nearly $1 million in fines.
“There is strong evidence that when the final numbers are tallied, there will be very high levels of staff vaccine compliance among long-term care employees,” Matthew Barrett, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities said in a statement Monday.
The state’s Department of Public Health over the weekend revealed that 101 long-term care providers in the state still have not met the requirements of executive order issued by Gov. Ned Lamont (D) in early September.
The order requires long-term care facilities — which includes nursing homes, assisted living services agencies, managed residential communities, residential care homes, chronic disease hospitals, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities — to ensure all workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and report their compliance with the order.
The state’s vaccine mandate went into effect on Sept. 28. Non-compliant providers have been subject to up to $20,000 in fines daily. “Non-reporters” have been fined more than $19 million and, of that, nursing homes have been fined $900,000 so far, the state estimated.
The latest federal data shows 94.9% of Connecticut healthcare staff have been fully vaccinated against the disease, which is among the highest rates in the nation.
“The numbers demonstrate overwhelming compliance with the vaccine policy objectives and that the few nursing homes fines are an outlier in what is clearly an enormously successful vaccine initiative,” Barrett and Mag Morelli, president and CEO of LeadingAge Connecticut, said in a joint statement Monday.
The two stressed that more analysis is needed to determine to what extent there is actual non-compliance with the policy objectives of the governor’s long-term care staff vaccine mandate because the issued fines only address reporting delays and not actual staff vaccination rates. They also said early reporting data strongly suggests that administrative reporting errors in the assisted living communities may be more reflective of a misunderstanding of the reporting rules and less reflective of communities; staff vaccination rates.
The groups added that some long-term care providers are appealing the issued fines.
“Our associations are recommending state regulators take a balanced approach to evaluating a provider’s compliance with the executive order and to weigh more heavily the actual compliance with the policy goals of vaccination, rather than on delays or mistakes in reporting,” Barrett and Morelli said.