Feds, Florida, health care vaccination rule against COVID

As Governor Ron DeSantis fights COVID-19 vaccine passports and authorities – the latest threatening the Special Olympics with a $ 27.5 million fine – there is a mandate that cannot be stopped.

The Medicare and Medicaid Services Center is introducing a federal vaccination requirement for health care workers who only offer medical or religious exemptions. The rule, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in January, contradicts a state law that requires employers to offer broad exemptions that are not allowed by the CMS.

If the Florida Department of Health has vowed not to monitor or report compliance with the requirements for Florida health facilities, this does not preclude federal government verification. The CMS had to be fully vaccinated or exempt by 100% of eligible Florida health workers by February 28th.

The CMS has cut $ 1.2 million in the allocation of federal funding for the Florida survey and certification and will pay contractors to check if the health facilities are complying with the law, which would normally be the responsibility of the state, a CMS spokesman said. The agency plans to cut funding for non-compliant states in the coming years until it begins overseeing the vaccine requirement, a Feb. 9 memorandum said.

Brock Juarez, communications director for the Florida Department of Health Administration, said in an email Thursday that CMS moves do not change the agency’s policy.

“It’s a low price of $ 1.2 million to protect the freedom of health care workers,” he wrote.

Juarez added that he doubted that the CMS would meet the threat to hospitals that did not actually serve the sentence: the termination of the program, that is. it would mean that hospitals would not be able to accept Medicaid or Medicare.

There are 5,242,984 people registered with Medicaid across the state, according to the Florida Health Care Agency’s April census.

“The concept that the Biden Administration would link Medicare and Medicaid funding to a vaccination order – is half of the public funding policy that pays for health care for children, the elderly, the disabled, and low-income people,” Juarez wrote. “I would be surprised if that was the path they chose.”

Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, said in an email that the governor signed state laws in November to reduce vaccination orders.

Companies with 99 or fewer employees who issue vaccination orders without exception will be fined $ 10,000 for each employee violation, and large companies will be fined $ 50,000 for each employee violation, the Nov. 18 DeSantis office reported.

“Florida law protects employers from vaccination orders. No one, including health care workers, should lose their livelihood because of the state of the covid vaccine. This is a personal medical decision, and in Florida, we respect that,” Pushaw wrote.

State law differs from federal law by requiring exceptions that are prohibited by the CMS, such as a waiver for previous COVID-19 infection.

“Available evidence indicates that COVID-19 vaccines provide better protection than natural immunity and that vaccines, even after a previous infection, help to prevent infections again,” says a CMS FAQ document.

Pushaw called this position “unscientific.”

State law also requires that people who are not religiously or medically exempt be allowed to have weekly tests instead of being vaccinated, which the CMS does not support, proving that the vaccine is a more effective measure to control infections.

The CMS says states cannot ban hospitals from following the rule because of the U.S. Constitution’s Clause of Dominance, where federal law is in conflict when federal law takes precedence over state law.

The hospital regulator cited 69 hospitals in the state for non-compliance and is working to align them, the agency told Politico on May 30, although policy experts said in the publication that they are concerned that the agency has sufficient resources for the task.

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The idea of ​​a health vaccine order has had widespread support from the medical community before it came into force.

In July 2021, more than 50 medical teams, including the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Associations and the National Association of Home Care and Hospice, called on health care workers to apply for vaccination. COVID-19, according to a news release from the American Association of Medical Associations.

“The AAMC, on the front lines of this pandemic where its members continue to care for the patient, did not take this decision lightly,” said Dr. David J. Skorton, AAMC President and CEO in July. “Based on evidence and real-world experience with the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, requesting vaccines from those serving in health care organizations is a good decision to promote the health of our patients and their families. And communities.”

Critics like DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have argued that vaccine orders will increase the shortage of health care workers in Florida today and violate people’s physical autonomy.

“Your rights or your freedoms should not be restricted in making decisions about whether or not to take the COVID vaccine,” DeSantis said at a June 3 press conference to discuss the end of the Special Olympics vaccine requirement.

Vaccination orders do not appear to have exacerbated staff shortages, at least in nursing homes, where vaccination rates have risen by 25 percentage points nationally from 63% to 88% since the mandate was announced in August 2021 until the end of August 2021. In February, researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation found the analysis for May.

[email protected]; @CECatherman on Twitter

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