Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers is putting rural hospitals at risk. Jerry Jasper, CEO at Brownfield Regional Medical Center, said he might be forced to shut down due to the mandate.
In an interview with KCBD, Jasper explained that nursing agencies are already recruiting hospital staff with promises of higher wages. Though he encourages staff members to get vaccinated, not all of them have taken the jab. Jasper estimates that 20 to 25 percent of his staff will leave if a vaccine mandate is implemented. Losing these workers will likely shut down the institution.
Jasper is also not given a choice whether or not to mandate vaccinations. According to Washington’s mandate, healthcare employees working at hospitals and facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid must be vaccinated. Facilities that do not adhere to the mandate rules will likely lose Medicare and Medicaid subsidies. For Brownfield Regional Medical Center, these two programs account for up to 85 percent of their funding.
“It’s huge in our rural community as all the other rural communities. We all have high poverty levels and stuff like that, so a lot of Medicaid usage in our communities and stuff like that,” Jasper told the media outlet. He is waiting to see if Texas joins the fight against Biden’s vaccine mandate.
Larry Gray, the Seminole Hospital District CEO, agreed with Jasper on the issue. He said that a “large percentage” of their revenues come from Medicaid, Medicare, and similar products. Roughly 70 percent of his staff are vaccinated. Like Jasper, Gray also encourages vaccinations. However, he feels that a mandate is a “terrible message.”
“If the vaccinations are working, why do you have to mandate people to get the vaccines? What happens to individual choice and medical decisions between the patient and their doctor, which is all of the things that we’re trying to support,” Gray said.
A report by the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospital published in 2019 showed that 26 rural hospitals in the state had shut down in the previous decade. One of the key factors was the reduction in Medicare and Medicaid funds. Biden’s COVID-19 action plan mandates vaccines for healthcare workers and affects 17 million workers in the sector.
Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich has already announced that he will be suing President Biden and other administration officials for the mandate. At a press conference, Brnovich stated that the president does not have any constitutional authority to insist that millions of Americans get vaccinated against their will.
“I promised Arizonans that we would not stand for the Biden Administration’s egregious federal overreach on vaccine mandates… Today, we have filed the first lawsuit in the nation against the unconstitutional mandates. Arizona will not tolerate this assault on our sovereignty,” Brnovich tweeted.
Another government vaccine mandate has also faced roadblocks in court. A New York federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order. It stops the state from enforcing its vaccine mandate on healthcare workers if they claim a religious exemption.
The lawsuit was filed by a group of doctors, nurses, and other professionals in the medical field. New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate had provided no exemption on the basis of religious beliefs.
“The same front line health care workers hailed as heroes by the media for treating COVID patients before vaccines were available, including the Plaintiffs herein, are now vilified by the same media as pariahs who must be excluded from society until they are vaccinated against their will,” stated the lawsuit.