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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Ohio Nursing Homes Brace For Possible Staff Loss, Closures Due To Federal Vaccination Mandate

Patient walks on walker with help of nursing staffer [Shutterstock / Shutterstock]
Patient walks on walker with help of nursing staffer

President Joe Biden has announced all staff at nursing homes must be vaccinated in order for the facilities to continue receiving Medicaid or Medicare payments.\

In Ohio nursing homes, nearly half of the employees have not been vaccinated.

The state's nursing homes lobbying group worries the new order could do more harm than good

“Taking away Medicaid and Medicare is a death sentence for most facilities,” says Pete Van Runkle, president of the Ohio Health Care Association.

On average, nursing homes are already 10% short-staffed, he said, because there aren’t enough employees to work lower-wage jobs in those facilities.

“The reality is there will be some percentage that just are not going to do it. They are opposed to vaccination, or COVID vaccination and basically, they are not going to do it and will go get a job elsewhere. So it is the patients who will pay the price,” Van Runkle said.

Nursing homes in rural areas will be hit the hardest, he added, and some could close if they lose the federal funding.

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