Duncan Leads Letter Over CMS Vaccine Mandate Concerns

September 30, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Jeff Duncan led a letter with 44 Members of Congress, several of whom hold advanced medical degrees, to President Joe Biden, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, regarding serious concerns over the practicality, efficacy, and morality of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for staff within all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities.

“I’m concerned that if the Biden Administration moves forward with this rule, the resulting staff shortages could actually cost lives instead of saving them. The American people need to know whether the Biden Administration has even considered the potential ramifications for their action of imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, and how they plan to respond,” said Congressman Jeff Duncan. “Several states are already nearing or exceeding hospital capacity, and many Medicare and Medicaid providers, especially nursing homes, are struggling to hire and retain enough employees to comply with state and federal staffing requirements. A vaccine mandate will inevitably push a significant portion of healthcare workers out of the industry, putting further strain on providers. No employee should have to choose between a vaccination and their job.”

“This week, New York began their state vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, and as of the day of the rollout, about 15% of hospital workers remained unvaccinated,” said Congressman Jeff Duncan. “The situation is so dire, that the governor is even considering deploying the National Guard to fill the void left by healthcare workers who will be fired over the order. We must ensure that President Biden understands the risk he is taking with our healthcare system through this mandate.”

Click PDF iconHERE to link to the full letter.

Dear President Biden,

On September 9, 2021, your administration directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff within all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, home health agencies, and all other Medicare and Medicaid service providers. While we understand the intention of this action is to improve the health outcomes of patients, we have serious concerns regarding the practicality, efficacy, and morality of this requirement.

Several states are already nearing or exceeding hospital capacity, and many Medicare and Medicaid providers, especially nursing homes, are struggling to hire and retain enough employees to comply with state and federal staffing requirements. Only about 54% of the United States population is fully vaccinated with state vaccination rates as low as about 39%. Furthermore, according to the United States Census Bureau, 15.7% of American adults are hesitant about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine with 7.2% reporting that they “definitely” will not receive the vaccine. Thus, a vaccine mandate will inevitably push a significant portion of healthcare workers out of the industry, putting further strain on providers.

With this in mind, we have the following questions:

  1. How does your administration plan on addressing a decrease in hospital and nursing home capacity due to the exacerbated healthcare workforce shortages that will result from this vaccine mandate?
  2. Does your administration acknowledge that a decrease in hospital and nursing home capacity negatively affects the health outcomes of patients, and how is decreasing hospital and nursing home capacity consistent with your stated goal of improving the health outcomes of patients?
  3. How does your administration plan on protecting senior citizens when they are forced to leave the safety of their nursing home if the home is no longer able to supply adequate staffing as a result of this vaccine mandate?
  4. Should your administration follow through with this vaccine mandate, does your administration plan on mitigating at least some of the workforce shortages by providing healthcare workers exemptions for religious or moral objections? Has your administration considered allowing those with naturally acquired COVID-19 antibodies to opt out of the vaccine mandate?

If your administration is unable to address any of these questions, we must ask that you immediately halt your efforts to implement this mandate to protect both COVID-19 patients and any other individual seeking treatment. We eagerly await your prompt response.

Co-signers: Jeff Duncan (SC-03),  Ralph Norman (SC-05), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Ronny L. Jackson, M.D. (TX-13), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Tracey Mann (KS-01), Diana Harshbarger, Pharm.D. (TN-01), Scott Perry (PA-10), Mariannette J. Miller-Meeks, M.D. (IA-02), Jody Hice (GA-10), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Barry Loudermilk (GA-11), Van Taylor (TX-03), Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (TN-04), Brian Mast (FL-18), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Dan Bishop (NC-09), William Timmons (SC-04), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Clay Higgins (LA-03), August Pfluger (TX-11), Brian Babin, D.D.S. (TX-36), David G. Valadao (CA-21), Yvette Herrell (NM-02), Ron Estes (KS-04), Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Bill Posey (FL-08), Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01), Chris Jacobs (NY-27), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), David P. Joyce (OH-14), Dusty Johnson (SD-AL), Andrew R. Garbarino (NY-02), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, R.Ph. (GA-01), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Andy Biggs (AZ-05)

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