The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) recently sent a letter to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding its forthcoming final healthcare standard on COVID-19. The association requested that workplace safety standards remain consistent with updated COVID-19 standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for nursing homes.
AHCA/NCAL argues that protocols established at the beginning of the pandemic are no longer prudent due to new, less severe COVID-19 variants and vaccines and treatments are widely available to combat the virus. Previous stringent protocols also had a separate, detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of residents and contributed to the burnout of staff, according to the group.
“The federal government cannot responsibly implement any new standards that would have a monetary impact without providing additional Medicare and Medicaid funding for implementation,” according to the letter. “The long-term care profession continues to face historic workforce challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Labor shortages and financial strain have forced many nursing homes nationwide to limit the number of residents they can accept or permanently close their doors. This is exacerbating access issues for those seeking care, causing backlogs in hospitals and further straining the nation’s healthcare system.”
OSHA is anticipated to release the final healthcare standard on COVID-19 in the coming weeks.