September 7, 2021
Several weeks ago, Trisha Schell-Guy, General Counsel at OASAS joined one of our NYS Council Member Support and Public Policy meetings where we discussed vaccination mandates and specifically, a possible emergency regulation on this topic pertaining to MH and SUD staff. At the time, the thinking was that, at least initially, a ‘vaccinate or test weekly’ requirement would only apply to staff in bedded programs licensed by OASAS or OMH. But weeks have passed since that conversation, there is a new Administration in place, and the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) has met several times in the interim. At last Thursday’s PHHPC meeting, the Planning Council gave the DOH Commissioner discretion to include other areas of healthcare (other than those programs and services licensed and regulated by DOH directly) in the mandates, based on data that conclusively supports the need to do so.
Throughout the intervening weeks, the NYS Council has argued vociferously for OMH and OASAS to include all programs in the eventual O agency Emergency Reg that is promulgated. It is our understanding that the O agency emergency regulation pertaining to a ‘vaccinate or test’ mandate is currently with the Executive Chamber awaiting approval. There is some reason to believe the mandate may now include outpatient programs but we can’t confirm this until we see it in print.