Friday, September 10, 2021

Biden's vaccine mandates likely to have big rural impact

"President Biden announced sweeping new coronavirus vaccine mandates Thursday designed to affect tens of millions of Americans, ordering all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be immunized or face weekly testing," The Washington Post reports. "Biden also said that he would require most health-care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to vaccinate their employees, which the White House believes will cover 50,000 locations." That includes outpatient facilities like dialysis clinics and home health agencies.

Biden will also require vaccinations—with no exceptions for regular testing among the unvaccinated—for employees of Head Start programs, Defense Department contractors, and federally operated Native American schools. "The White House estimates that the policy will affect about 80 million workers, or two-thirds of the country’s workforce. Businesses that ignore the mandate could face up to $14,000 per violation," the Post reports.

The new mandates will likely have a large impact in rural America, especially among large rural employers such as manufacturers, meatpackers, and Walmart, and hospitals. Rural health-care facilities are more likely to rely on Medicare and Medicaid for reimbursement, and many are already on the brink of bankruptcy. The new mandate will affect about one in three workers in Maine, the most rural state by population.

The announcement drew immediate criticism from many, including some Republican governors, The Associated Press reports. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has asked his attorney general to fight the mandate when it is put into effect, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is considering a special legislative session to challenge the mandate. Biden called such governors "cavalier" with the health of children and of their communities for resisting the mandates.

No comments: