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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Biden rule requires vaccinations for staff at federally funded health care facilities

A hospital worker walks past an empty bed in a hospital hallway.
A hospital worker walks past an empty bed in a hospital hallway.

The head of Montana’s state health department is calling a federal vaccine mandate for health care facilities “unfortunate.” Hospitals say they’ll comply and the rules are “designed to ensure a high standard of care.”

The rule issued Thursday requires health care facilities that receive Medicaid and Medicare funding to have all of their staff partially vaccinated by early December and fully vaccinated the following month.

Meier says that timeline gives impacted facilities “time to decide how they will proceed.” Meier says the state is reviewing the implications of the mandate, as a state law passed earlier this year bans most vaccine mandates in Montana.

However, the rule issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services says “In these cases, consistent with the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, the agency intends that this rule preempts state and local laws to the extent the state and local laws conflict with this rule.” Montana’s and other state attorneys general have sued over another federal vaccine rule for employers and federal contractors.

Montana Hospital Association CEO Rich Rasmussen said in a statement that hospitals and health care providers will comply with the federal vaccine requirements in order to “protect patients, health care workers and to preserve access to health care services in our communities.”

Updated: November 5, 2021 at 5:43 PM MDT
This story has been updated to include a statement from Montana Hospital Association CEO Rich Rasmussen.
Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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