MHA issues statement on CMS vaccination mandate rules
President and CEO
Montana Hospital Association
November 5, 2021
Montana hospitals and healthcare providers are committed to providing safe, high-quality care to the patients and communities we serve. CMS rules and regulations are designed to ensure a high standard of care and a safe healthcare setting for both providing and receiving care.
In order to protect patients, healthcare workers, and preserve access to healthcare services for our communities, Montana hospitals and healthcare providers will work to comply with the federal vaccine requirement. CMS has asserted this federal requirement takes priority over state and local law.
Noncompliance with the CMS requirement can lead to termination from the Medicare and Medicaid program. In Montana, more than 524,000 Montanans receive healthcare services through Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. Hospitals are the largest provider of care to these patients, and services provided to these individuals represent 63% of all patient revenues. Termination from the Medicare and Medicaid programs would drastically reduce access to healthcare services for Montanans over 65 years of age, working and low-income families, pregnant women and children and people with disabilities. The loss of care not only would have a negative impact on the health of our affected neighbors, it would jeopardize the financial viability and continued operations of healthcare providers.
On November 4, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most healthcare settings, including hospitals, that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The proposed rule is effective as of November 5, 2021. Under the regulation, all eligible workers must be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022. As has been the longstanding policy for the vaccination of healthcare workers in Montana, the new federal rule does allow for exemptions to staff with recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances or practices.