Hospitals face fallout from Supreme Court decision on vaccine mandate

While 21 states and the District of Columbia have already mandated vaccines for healthcare workers, six — Texas, Montana, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia — have implemented bans that prohibited certain employers from requiring vaccines. Eighteen states had no requirements for healthcare workers, while five, including Utah, Arizona and Michigan, exempted healthcare organizations from the ban from vaccine requirements .

The Supreme Court ruling covered two dozen states that had been subject to federal injunctions barring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from imposing a mandate. About 10 million workers in about 76,000 health care facilities, including hospitals and long-term care facilities, are affected by this requirement.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis called the new federal policy “crazy” at a press conference Thursday. The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration also said it would not ask health care facilities about compliance with the vaccine’s mandate. On Friday, Mr. DeSantis reiterated his position, posting on Twitter that Florida will reject federal warrants, “which are rooted in political science, not medical science.”

Yet federal laws supersede or “pre-empt” conflicting state and local laws, and in allowing the mandate of healthcare workers, the Supreme Court at least implicitly ruled that it overruled state laws prohibiting vaccination requirements in facilities participating in the Medicaid and Medicare programs.

The specter of the potential loss of federal funding if they don’t comply has already persuaded some hospital chains to require vaccinations for workers who didn’t qualify for a medical or religious exemption.

“If we fail to adhere to CMS’s mandate, we could compromise our ability to serve our communities and provide patient care under Medicare and Medicaid programs,” an HCA spokesperson said in a statement. The system, which employs around 275,000 workers, said more than 90% of its workers were vaccinated or eligible for an exemption.

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