LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – Health care providers across the nation are facing a distressing decision – require everyone who works inside their facilities to get vaccinated for COVID-19, or lose all Medicare and Medicaid funding.
President Biden announced the mandate in September, but last Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the final cutoff. Employees must have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose vaccine by Dec. 6 and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.
This mandate affects hospitals here in Lubbock, like University Medical Center. CEO Mark Funderburk says Lubbock’s health care workers have saved the city and this isn’t the way to treat them, but it’s the path he has to take.
“It was just a few months ago, the city was really claiming our employees as heroes. Everybody was. And now, the very heroes that have pulled us through, that have persevered, now we’re being forced by CMS to put their jobs at risk. It doesn’t sit well. It shouldn’t sit well. But it’s the path that’s been laid out before us.”
“If people choose not to get vaccinated, the hospital is sending out guidance for them to leave in good standing, so they can be eligible for rehire.”
1,300 of UMC’s 4,600 workers are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Funderburk says the hospital can’t afford to lose CMS funding, as it accounts for more than half of the budget.
The mandate applies to every physician, student and volunteer who does business in the building. The hospital has scheduled upcoming clinics, encouraging more people to get the shot to keep their job.
“I feel hopeful. I think I have to be hopeful. I choose to be hopeful about the outcome of this as we see people begin to thoughtfully consider the mandate, the CMS mandate, and how they’re going to respond to it.”
With less than 30 days to get more people vaccinated and all the records in order, Funderburk says the hospital has a tough hill to climb.
There are two exemptions to the mandate – medical and religious. Hospital leadership, including physicians, chaplains, Human Resources and legal counsel, will internally decide which exemptions are granted … READ MORE.