(KWWL) -- The Iowa Health Care Association is asking for a test-out option following the Biden Administration's announcement of a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate that impacts as many as 100 million Americans.
The IHCA says the six-pronged plan took into consideration feedback provided by the nursing home sector, including nearly 100 Iowa nursing home providers who submitted comment letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Their comments demonstrated deep concerns about the workforce consequences of the mandate.
While the IHCA says it's encouraged by the Administration's consideration of feedback, more must be done to prevent exacerbating the existing worker shortage in the healthcare industry, specifically in long-term care facilities. As of July 18, 39.1% of Iowa nursing homes reported a shortage of nurses or aides, according to AARP data.
While the new vaccine mandate includes test-out options for some industries, nursing homes are not included. The IHCA says it's deeply concerned that without a test-out option, the worker shortage in Iowa's long-term care facilities will worsen and some facilities may even close due to a lack of staff.
The association is renewing its call to include a test-out option for staff members of long-term care facilities, to extend its implementation timeline to provide more time for facilities to comply, and for $6 billion in additional funding to assist providers in mitigating the worker shortage.
Iowa nursing homes currently employ more than 27,000 workers, who provide skilled nursing care for nearly 20,000 Iowans. As of July 18, 61.9% of Iowa's nursing home workers are fully vaccinated, according to AARP data. That means, according to those numbers, roughly 16,700 of Iowa's workers are fully vaccinated.