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Ohio Nursing Homes Brace For Loss Of Staff, Possible Closures Due To Vaccine Mandate

Mill Run Rehabilitation Center and Assisted Living in Hilliard has seen several residents and staff test positive for COVID-19.
Ryan Hitchcock
Mill Run Rehabilitation Center and Assisted Living in Hilliard.

The lobbying group for Ohio's nursing homes is warning that a new federal requirement that staff be vaccinated will have unintended consequences.

President Joe Biden has announced all staff at nursing homes must be vaccinated in order for the facilities to continue receiving Medicaid or Medicare payments.

However, there is concerns that the mandate could actually do more harm than good with nearly half of the employees in Ohio’s nursing homes have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ohio Health Care Association President Pete Van Runkle, the state’s nursing homes lobbying group, said the facilities he represents are concerned.

“Taking away Medicaid and Medicare is a death sentence for most facilities,” he said.

Van Runkle said 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 said.

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

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.