A congressional group of Republican physicians has warned in letters to President Joe Biden and the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that COVID-19 vaccine mandates for healthcare providers are liable to hurt patient care and contribute to healthcare labor shortages, Fox News reported Monday.
Known as the GOP Doctors Caucus, the letters sent by the group of lawmakers led by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to Biden and CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure warned about outsized adverse effects the vaccine mandates could have on the healthcare industry as a whole.
“We support efforts to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but these decisions are best left to local leaders, and it is inappropriate to hold Federal dollars hostage,” the caucus wrote to Brooks-LaSure.
“Further, this could have unintended, negative consequences on the quality of patient care and workforce shortages,” the letter to the CMS administration added.
The physician lawmakers also said that the U.S. healthcare system already experiencing a labor shortage “will be further – and perhaps catastrophically – strained by an inflexible COVID-19 vaccine mandate forcing frontline health care workers to choose between vaccination and continued employment.”
“Given the current state of the pandemic, a mass layoff of health care employees would be detrimental to and undercut our own efforts to combat it,” the Republican doctors noted further in their letter to the CMS administrator.
“Therefore, we urge CMS not to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for health care facility employees. If you do, we strongly urge you to exempt employees who can provide proof of natural immunity and to consider allowing unvaccinated individuals to continue their employment subject to routine COVID-19 testing,” they added.
In the caucus’s letter to the president, the GOP physicians pressed Biden to repeal his executive order mandating vaccines for healthcare industry staffers, as well as “revise the Administration’s policy to provide Federal employees the ability to test-out from any vaccination requirement if they can demonstrate natural immunity to the disease,” if the plan moves forward.
“Allowing test-out options for vaccine requirements to include natural immunity is not a novel policy,” the doctors wrote. “The European Union has acknowledged that immunity is not solely vaccine-induced and will allow certain travelers who have either recovered from COVID-19 or can provide a recent negative test to hold the same safety certificate as vaccinated individuals.
“In closing, as the Administration directs the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force to issue strict vaccine mandates for Federal employees, we strongly urge you not to move forward with this mandate,” the lawmakers noted to Biden in conclusion.
“If you do, we ask that you exempt employees who can provide proof of natural immunity and to consider allowing unvaccinated individuals to continue their employment subject to routine COVID-19 testing,” they added.
Republican Reps. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, and Michael Burgess of Texas — all doctors — also signed on to the letter.
In September, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced she would deploy some National Guard troops to make up for healthcare worker shortages caused, in part, by resistance to the vaccine.
Saying that people have “a right to be treated by someone who will not make them get sicker,” Hochul told reporters, “I need to keep people in the state safe and we’ll be nation-leading with our mandate which strikes at midnight tonight when everyone is expected in a hospital in the State of New York or a healthcare facility to have been vaccinated.”
Elsewhere, healthcare workers once hailed as heroes during the pandemic before vaccines were available have been fired for refusing to take one, creating localized shortages of staff.
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