CMS Issues New Regs Making Free Flu Shots Even More
Available for Senior Citizens
Remove barriers for seniors who want to receive
annual flu shots as part of their Medicare preventive health routine
4, 2011 – Medicare has taken action to make seasonal flu vaccinations
more available and suggested the new requirements for Medicare-certified
providers will encourage senior citizens getting the free shots when
they are at the doctor’s office for their free preventive health
The Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services (CMS) notice issued last week would update the
conditions of participation and conditions for coverage for a number of
provider types, in an effort to increase access to the vaccine, increase
the number of patients receiving annual vaccination against seasonal
influenza, and to decrease flu-linked morbidity and mortality.
“Today’s 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.”
This proposed rule would
require many Medicare providers and suppliers to offer all patients an
annual influenza vaccination during flu season, unless medically
contraindicated. As always, any patient would retain the right to
decline any vaccination. This proposed requirement would extend to
· ● Hospitals, including
Short-term Acute Care, Psychiatric, Rehabilitation, Long-Term Care,
Children’s, and Cancer;
· ● Critical Access Hospitals
· ● Rural Health Clinics (RHCs);
· ● Federally Qualified
Health Centers (FQHCs) and;
Today’s proposed rule would
update the conditions of participation and conditions for coverage for
all of the provider types above.
These rules apply to health
care organizations that seek to begin and continue participating in the
Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The conditions are health and
safety standards that are the foundation for improving quality and
protecting the health and safety of beneficiaries. CMS implements these
standards through state departments of health and accrediting
organizations recognized by CMS (through a process called "deeming"),
which review provider practices to assure they meet or exceed the
Medicare’s condition standards.
“In order to meet these
proposed provisions, the providers and suppliers would need to develop
and implement policies and procedures for offering and administering
seasonal influenza vaccine,” says the CMS statement.
“The proposed rule does allow
for situations in which vaccine supplies may be unavailable or in short
supply, and recognizes that providers and suppliers could not be held
accountable for providing vaccine for all patients in such
Preparation for pandemic
Additionally, the proposed
rule would require the included providers and suppliers to develop
policies and procedures that would allow them to offer vaccinations for
pandemic influenza, in case of a future pandemic influenza event for
which a vaccine is developed.
“This proposal will remove
barriers for Medicare beneficiaries who want to receive annual flu shots
as part of their preventive health routine,” said Dr. Berwick.
“While CMS believes that flu
vaccination is the best way to keep beneficiaries and their families
safe and healthy during flu season, our proposal respects the rights of
beneficiaries and their families to choose whether the flu shot is best
“However, we hope that by
expanding the breadth of places where flu shots are offered,
beneficiaries will make the choice about whether to vaccinate based on
health needs rather than convenience or availability.”
CMS will accept public
comments on the CMS proposed rule until July 5, 2011, and will respond
to comments in a final rule to be published in the coming months. To
submit comments, please visit
http://www.,regulations.gov and search for rule “CMS-3213-P.”
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