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Tell the Senate: Medicare should track healthcare acquired COVID and prevent it by requiring masks
Letter campaign to the U.S. Senate to have Medicare prevent nosocomial COVID.
In 2023 alone, over 138,000 COVID infections have occurred across the US in healthcare settings. The policy to end universal masking and hospital pre-procedure COVID testing in healthcare settings is dangerous, unethical, and based on flawed data. A new important study [Pak et al] – showed that COVID infections in hospitals surged after U.K. stopped universal screening on admission. Please join us in sending a clear message to your Senator that you demand them to call on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to require COVID infection control protections and universal masking in healthcare settings, continued reporting of healthcare acquired COVID infections, and to count COVID as one of several other conditions in reducing payments to hospital for healthcare services. Health care is the most essential place to prevent spread of infection, and keeping healthcare settings safe should be a bare minimum of accessibility.
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Senators on the Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, have an even larger influence.
After you write, follow up with a phone call to your Senator. Find their numbers here. If your Senator is on Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, your call as a constituent can make a direct impact.
Things to discuss with your Senator or their staff member:
Ask your senator to have Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) add regulations mandating universal masking in healthcare settings in order to receive payments from Medicare for healthcare services.
Require that hospitals continue to test for COVID upon admission and report healthcare acquired COVID infections. Without pre-procedure hospital admission COVID testing, people, including vulnerable patients, will be subject to COVID infection from other patients when going in for preventative and emergency care. Further, since hospitals are not not testing, it will be harder to prove that the infection was acquired in the hospital.
Include COVID as one of several other infectious diseases that hospitals are incentivized to prevent as part of Medicare’s Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program conducted by CMS and measured by the CDC.
Sample Letter to Senators:
The healthcare system should be a place of healing, where the risk of acquiring infections is minimized. Strong, consistent infection control practices, long recognized as a key gauge of medical care quality, are crucial to limit COVID’s spread. Without these practices, healthcare acquired COVID infections (HAIs) will remain high. Hospitals must adequately measure and track COVID HAIs, therefore COVID must be added to the list of other conditions tracked in the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program conducted by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and measured by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Removing masks and hospital pre-procedure COVID testing in healthcare puts both patients and healthcare workers at risk, which could place even more strain on the healthcare system amidst severe staffing shortages. The absence of masking and other strong COVID prevention practices is also deterring many people from seeking care.
We urge you, as a steward of the American public’s health, to act in the best interests of all of us, and especially the most at risk, and have Medicare require masking in patient care areas and public spaces of all healthcare settings and include metrics for hospital onset - COVID in the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program. CMS must include universal masking and hospital COVID admission testing as part of their payment requirements when they consider 2024’s Proposed Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals, inclusive of the HAC Reduction Program, Docket (CMS-2023-0057).
Feel free to use our letter in any format, edit it, or add to it.