CMS Releases Proposed Rule to Expand Patient Access to Influenza Vaccinations

June 5, 2011

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule in April 2011 that would require Medicare-certified providers to comply with updated conditions of participation directed at extending patient access to influenza vaccines, both pandemic and seasonal.

The proposed rule has been issued “in an effort to increase access to [influenza] vaccine, increase the number of patients receiving annual vaccination against seasonal influenza, and to decrease flu-linked morbidity and mortality.”

The “proposed rule will expand Medicare beneficiaries’ options for where to receive a flu shot during flu season,” said CMS Administrator, Donald M. Berwick, M.D. “The new requirements would make flu shots available in more of the health care facilities that Medicare beneficiaries are most likely to visit, including hospitals and rural health clinics.”

The proposed rule requirements would extend to the following Medicare-certified facilities:

  • Hospitals, including short-term acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation, long-term care, children’s and cancer;
  • critical access hospitals (CAHs);
  • rural health clinics (RHCs);
  • federally qualified health centers (FQHCs); and
  • end-stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities that offer dialysis services.

In addition, the proposed rule would require the subject providers and suppliers to develop policies and procedures allowing them to offer vaccinations for pandemic influenza, in case of an occurrence of a future pandemic influenza event for which a vaccine is developed.

CMS will be accepting comments on the proposed rule until July 5, 2011. It will respond to comments in a final rule.

For more information, visit the CMS webpage about the proposed rule.

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