Hospitals Drop COVID Vax Mandates

Employers including HCA and Tenet remove requirement after a judge halts Biden admin mandate for healthcare workers to get vaccinated.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Some of the largest U.S. hospital systems have dropped Covid-19 vaccine mandates for staff after a federal judge temporarily halted a Biden administration mandate that healthcare workers get the shots, reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • Hospital operators including HCA Healthcare Inc. HCA and Tenet Healthcare Corp. THC, as well as nonprofits AdventHealth and the Cleveland Clinic, are dropping the mandates.
  • “Labor costs in the industry have soared, and hospitals struggled to retain enough nurses, technicians and even janitors to handle higher hospitalizations in recent months,” notes WSJ.
  • Vaccine mandates have been negatively affecting the supply of healthcare workers, according to hospital executives, public-health authorities, and nursing groups.
  • Hospitals are struggling to find workers, including nurses.
  • “More recently, thousands of nurses have left the industry or lost their jobs rather than get vaccinated. As of September, 30% of workers at more than 2,000 hospitals across the country surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were unvaccinated,” WSJ reports.
  • HCA—a leading healthcare provider that had said in November that all employees needed to get vaccinated by the Jan. 4 federal deadline—suspended its vaccine requirement after courts halted the federal mandate.
  • AdventHealth, Tenet, the Cleveland Clinic, and Intermountain Healthcare also said they wouldn’t require the mandate.
WHAT EXPERTS ARE SAYING:
  • “It’s been a mass exodus, and a lot of people in the healthcare industry are willing to go and shop around,” said Wade Symons, an employee-benefits lawyer and head of consulting firm Mercer’s U.S. regulatory practice.
  • “If you get certain healthcare facilities that don’t require it, those could be a magnet for those people who don’t want the vaccine. They’ll probably have an easier time attracting labor.”
BACKGROUND:
  • A federal judge in Louisiana ruled in November that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services didn’t have the authority to mandate vaccines for healthcare workers, blocking a Biden administration rule that affected some 10 million workers, WSJ notes.
  • “The mandate had required all workers at facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to get second shots by Jan. 4. The American Hospital Association estimates that 42% of U.S. hospitals, some 2,640 facilities, have Covid-19 vaccine mandates in place.”
  • “I don’t think the mandates were helpful and I think the court in Louisiana did everyone a service,” said Alan Levine, chief executive officer of Ballad Health, which runs 21 hospitals in Tennessee and Virginia.