A nurse is pictured with a nursing home resident in the stock image above. (GagliardiPhotography / Shutterstock)
By Tawsif Anam September 13, 2021 at 1:36pm
President Joe Biden recently announced that all nursing home employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Failure to comply could result in nursing facilities losing Medicare and Medicaid funding.
As someone trained in health care policy analysis, I am afraid this vaccine mandate will exacerbate the shortage of nursing home workers, lead to the shutting down of many long-term care facilities and have severe adverse effects on America’s frail and elderly citizens.
The United States has an aging population. As baby boomers age, demand for health care services for seniors, including long-term care, is expected to grow.
Also, an increase in life expectancy over time means that there will be more seniors relying on the American health care system in the years to come. Therefore, a robust health care workforce is essential to meet the rising demand for services for America’s seniors.
For years, policy experts have discussed various aspects of the health care workforce. Even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there were concerns regarding the shortage of health care professionals such as doctors and nurses in the United States.
In the long-term care sector, the workforce shortage is much more significant. The coronavirus pandemic has intensified this shortage.
In the United States, people have the right to make their own decisions about their health care. Nursing home employees must not be forced to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
At a time when nursing homes are facing staffing challenges, President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate will add to the problem. When compelled to choose between personal freedom and their jobs, many nursing home employees may resign from their positions because they do not wish to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
In my home state of Wisconsin, nursing homes have been suffering from worker shortages for years. A 2018 study revealed there were 16,500 vacant caregiver positions in long-term and residential facilities in the state. By 2020, the number had increased to 20,655.
Do you think Biden’s vaccine mandate for nursing home employees will harm seniors?
Biden’s vaccine mandate will deepen the pre-existing workforce challenges, turn the situation into a full-fledged crisis and crush nursing homes’ ability to hire workers to care for their residents.
To advance his administration’s agenda of vaccinating all Americans by snatching away people’s freedom to choose, Joe Biden is using taxpayer-funded programs as a threatening tool.
Medicaid, a public health insurance program for low-income individuals, is the primary payer for long-term care services in America. Medicare, too, is paid for by hard-working Americans. If facilities lose Medicaid and Medicare funding for failure to comply with Biden’s vaccine mandate, then the real victims would be elderly nursing home residents.
In Wisconsin, like the rest of the country, nursing homes are stretched thin, not just because of the worker shortage but also due to funding challenges. Many long-term care facilities are ceasing operations as a result.
Since 2016, a total of 40 nursing homes in Wisconsin have shut down. Nationally, there were more than 500 closures between 2015 and 2019. Biden’s threat of cutting Medicaid and Medicare funding for facilities that fail to ensure a 100 percent COVID-19 vaccination rate among staff would further worsen the already dire funding situation that nursing homes face.
Nursing homes in rural parts of the country may be most severely impacted by Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. In Wisconsin, the long-term care facilities in rural areas of the state are anxious about what the consequences of losing federal funding would be for the elderly population they serve.
In a proclamation for Older Americans Month, President Joe Biden claimed that his administration recognizes the “responsibility to ensure that every American has the opportunity to age with dignity.” He also said his administration is “committed to ensuring older Americans can easily access appropriate services they need to stay safe and healthy as they age.”
Biden’s actions do not match his words. No one should be surprised at the empty promises made by a career politician like him.
Joe Biden is not a president for elderly and financially challenged Americans. He is not a source of inspiration for the freedom-loving, hard-working people of the United States.
Joe Biden is a leader for those who propose big, government-run, one-size-fits-all policy ideas for our country. He is a cheerleader for those who believe unelected bureaucrats have the power to decide what is best for Americans.
Nursing home employees, driven by a passion to serve, care for some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Residents in nursing homes are our grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and our elderly friends and neighbors. It is incumbent upon us to help ensure a sound workforce for nursing homes so that America’s senior citizens are cared for in a safe environment.
Biden’s vaccine mandate will aggravate the worker shortage in the long-term care sector; make it difficult for nursing homes to continue operating, especially in rural America; and limit senior citizens’ access to high-quality care.
The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.