COVID-19 and the Health Workforce 3/10-3/23

3/10-3/23 Updates

Vaccine Administration

New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council is voting to eliminate the COVID-19 booster mandate for health care workers.

A recent report cites substantially higher rates of vaccine hesitancy and lower rates of patient engagement with providers in rural communities since April 2021.

The US Senate voted to repeal the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers, however it is unlikely to be passed in the House of Representatives.

An article looks at policy options for improving vaccination rates of children in US schools.

Vaccine Administration

(03/20/22) Coronavirus Booster to No Longer Be Mandated for Health-care Workers, Report Says
New York health care employees will no longer be required to get booster COVID-19 vaccine doses. On March 17th, the state Public Health and Health Planning Council voted to eliminate the COVID-19 booster requirement for health care workers.

(03/07/22) Rural-urban Disparity in COVID-19 Vaccination Status Widens
The rural-urban disparity in COVID-19 vaccination status has nearly doubled since April 2021, according to the latest CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report suggests the reason for the increase is likely driven by higher rates of vaccine hesitancy and less patient engagement during provider interactions.

(03/07/22) Senate Voted to Repeal COVID-19 Healthcare Worker Vaccine Mandate
The senate has approved a resolution seeking to repeal the COVID-19 healthcare worker vaccine mandate. GOP lawmakers wanting to repeal the COVID-19 healthcare worker vaccine mandate said that the the rule was not about public health and would lead to greater staff shortages.

(03/02/22) Priorities and Policy Levers To Support School-located Vaccination
As the pandemic numbers have decreased nationwide in the last few months, school officials are still confronting the daily challenges of keeping schools open and their students safe. Although vaccinations are the best line of defense to reduce transmissions in schools, nationally only 31.8 percent of 5-to-11-year-olds, as of early February, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. These numbers are well under the national average. Despite the lower vaccination numbers for children, throughout the pandemic, school-located vaccination (SLV) have been critical in expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations for students and their families.

Health Workforce Shortages

The US Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking funding to increase pay and reduce onboarding requirements in efforts to fill vacancies and reduce turnover.

Analysis of new facility data from the CDC provides insight on the scope of nursing facility staffing impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Workforce Shortages

 (03/18/22) VA Seeks Higher Pay Caps for More Health Care Workers to Address High Turnover Rates
Faced with thousands of job vacancies and a high turnover rate among its health care employees, the Department of Veterans Affairs is asking Congress to increase pay caps for more occupations and reduce onboarding requirements. The RAISE Act was passed as part of the fiscal 2022 omnibus funding bill. It will establish higher pay caps for VA registered nurses and physician assistants. The Veterans Health Administration continues to urge federal legislators to adopt legislation increasing the salary limitations for other occupations.

(03/18/22) Nursing Facility Staffing Shortages During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation covers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursing facility staffing, as nursing facilities experienced deeper shortages and turnover. These issues were already long-standing pre-pandemic, and have only been made worse as the pandemic continued. The brief measures from May 2020 until February 2022.


A new report from the Office of the Inspector General highlights telehealth’s essential role in maintaining access to care for Medicare beneficiaries, weeks after Congress passed legislation to extend Medicare telehealth coverage.


(03/22/22) OIG: Telehealth “Critical” to Maintaining Access to Care Amidst COVID-19
The federal Office of Inspector General has published a report analyzing the expansion and utilization of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically looking at the impact of telehealth on providing service for Medicare beneficiaries. This report found telehealth to be “critical” to delivering services.

(03/10/22) Congress Omnibus Bill Includes Extension of Medicare Telehealth Coverage
The recent omnibus spending bill, introduced by the House of Representatives, includes provisions to extend telehealth waivers for Medicare patients. If the 1.5 trillion bill becomes law, several temporary telehealth waivers started during the pandemic for Medicare beneficiaries will be extended for at least 5 months after the public health emergency expires.

Health Workforce Resilience

New legislation signed into law by President Biden seeks to help health care workers struggling with burnout, addiction, and other issues.

Health Workforce Resilience

(03/18/22) Bill to Help Health Care Workers Struggling With Mental Health Signed Into Law
President Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. The law, which was introduced in July 2020, will fund grants, in-depth investigations, and public awareness campaigns to help encourage reform in the healthcare sector, where burnout, addiction, and suicide have become prevalent. This bill was named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, who died by suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic while working as a doctor.