Politicizing Science and Safety

The vast majority of legal analysts understand that CMS has the legal authority to require vaccines for healthcare providers to protect vulnerable patients. 76,000 Medicare and Medicaid funded providers have until Dec. 5 to achieve 100% staff vaccination by Jan. 4. The requirement may apply to more than 17 million healthcare workers. More than 14 million have already been vaccinated.

But politics always gets in the way of science and safety nowadays. Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming filed a frivolous lawsuit arguing that CMS “acted arbitrarily and capriciously”. The White House is “very confident” the rule can withstand any legal challenges.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks in terms of the number of [exemption requests made and vaccinations completed],” Francis Kirley, owner, president and CEO of Nexion Health, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. Nexion Health is a Maryland-based operator with 42 skilled nursing and rehabilitation and more than 4,300 employees.

The company has about a 68% vaccination rate among facility staff. Fewer than 10 employees have voluntarily resigned due the vaccination mandate.

“We internally have a good, effective strategy. It’s transparent, it’s not complicated,” he said. “People have to make their own decisions about what’s important to them but we’re trying to facilitate that vaccinations are the best solution, the most timely solution, but there are some [other] options.”

When did science and safety become political?