Florida regulator threatens to fine hospitals for administering COVID-19 vaccine

The Florida agency that regulates hospitals is warning suppliers not to administer COVID-19 vaccines to employees, citing state law that prohibits such rules and imposes heavy fines on violators.

The state health management agency, which oversees hospitals and other healthcare facilities, sent January 4th notice to suppliers reminding them of state law that prohibits private employers from imposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccines. This puts suppliers in a quandary, as complying with Florida law would mean failing to comply with two of the Biden administration’s vaccine regulations, both of which are in litigation.

“The latest action by the Biden administration is trampling on healthcare providers’ rights and creating a pattern of unequal enforcement and interstate uncertainty, while a lawsuit challenging the CMS rule is pending in the US Supreme Court,” AHCA Secretary Simone Marstiller said in her statement. statement. “Through the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida law bans generic vaccines and protects jobs by ensuring our most vulnerable people can get the health care they need.”

Healthcare workers dismissed due to such orders can file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, which can impose fines of up to $ 50,000 for violation for companies with more than 100 employees. Fines can be as high as $ 10,000 per violation for employers with fewer than 100 employees.

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Most healthcare systems in Florida do not have strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Even the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which is laying off about 1% of its 73,000 employees for failing to fulfill its mandate, said it is refraining from laying off unvaccinated employees on its Florida campus.

Florida employees who do not comply with our vaccination program continue to work pending the conclusion of the Medicare and Medicaid Services claims litigation, said Mayo spokesman Kevin Punski.

Punski declined to say how many of Mayo’s 7,400 Florida employees have not yet been vaccinated.

The Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County is another system that has fallen short of its mandate, although Margie Vargas, the system’s head of human resources, said more than 90% of employees are vaccinated. According to Vargas, after the final decision on federal mandates is made, Memorial will consult with its legal adviser on the implementation of the mandate.

“We’re just sticking to a waiting pattern,” she said. “We didn’t fire a single employee.”

Meanwhile, according to Vargas, more than 400 Memorial employees – or 3% of healthcare personnel – fell ill with COVID-19 this week. This is compared to up to 70 workers simultaneously in earlier periods of the pandemic.

“This number has grown exponentially over the past few weeks,” she said.

Spokesman Geo Morales said Orlando Health has no mandate either. The system continues to “strongly encourage” all employees to be vaccinated, he said.

“The BayCare health system in Clearwater is postponing the vaccination mandate until there is more clarity at the federal level,” said spokeswoman Lisa Razler. The system continues to track legal changes related to mandates.

“Jackson’s Miami health care system is also not empowered, but it has begun deducting $ 50 every two weeks from the salaries of employees who are not fully vaccinated and do not have medical or religious benefits,” said spokeswoman Lydia Amoretti. Currently, 85% of the more than 13,000 health workers are vaccinated.

Holy Cross Health in Fort Lauderdale is a rare example of a system that actually has vaccinations. It is part of Livonia, Michigan-based Trinity Health, which last summer became one of the first major healthcare systems to announce COVID-19 vaccinations at 91 hospitals and 117,000 employees. Spokeswoman Christine Walker said Holy Cross is concerned about the safety of its colleagues, patients and the community.

“Because of this, we have implemented the COVID-19 vaccine requirement before any CMS regulations or Florida laws are enacted to that effect,” she said.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, signed in November a state ban on COVID-19 vaccinations by a private employer, proclaiming “No one should lose their jobs due to tough COVID sanctions.” On the same day, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, announced that the condition was difficult the Biden administration’s mandate to vaccinate healthcare workers.

The Supreme Court is expected to clarify on Friday when it hears oral arguments about whether the CMS ‘s mandate over healthcare professionals and the OSHA mandate for most private employers could go into effect when they appeal.

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