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COVID-19

Montana health department head says agency is reviewing 'unfortunate' federal vaccine mandate for health care facilities

Hospital bed.
Hospital bed.

The head of Montana’s state health department is calling a federal vaccine mandate for health care facilities “unfortunate.”

The rule issued Thursday requires health care facilities that receive Medicaid and Medicare funding to have all of their staff partially vaccinated by early December and fully vaccinated the following month.

Department of Health and Human Services Director Adam Meier said in a statement Friday the timeline gives impacted facilities “time to decide how they will proceed.” He said the state is reviewing the implications of the mandate, as a state law passed earlier this year bans most vaccine mandates in Montana.

However, the rule issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services states: “In these cases, consistent with the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, the agency intends that this rule preempts state and local laws to the extent the state and local laws conflict with this rule.”

Attorneys general for Montana and several other states have sued over another federal vaccine rule for employers and federal contractors.

However, hospitals say the rules are “designed to ensure a high standard of care.”

Montana Hospital Association CEO Rich Rasmussen said in a statement that hospitals and health care providers will comply with the federal vaccine requirements in order to “protect patients, health care workers and to preserve access to health care services in our communities.”
Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.