Governors Youngkin and Justice Seek Relief For Rural Hospitals

Warning of hospitals and other health providers facing “an urgent staffing crisis,” the Republican governors of Virginia and West Virginia on Monday asked the Biden administration for a limited waiver to the federal vaccine mandate for health care workers.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled the federal government can proceed with the rule, which covers most health care workers in the U.S. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice acknowledged in a letter Monday that the legal process had left the rule in place but asked for “relief” for rural and state-run facilities.

The governors proposed that relief could come in multiple forms, such as broader conscience exemptions, flexibility on enforcement or a six-month delay in implementation. Without such flexibility, they wrote, the rule will compound existing staffing shortages.

“The impact in Southwest Virginia and throughout West Virginia will be particularly acute. In these rural areas, access to lifesaving care could be threatened and we may displace a generation of healthcare professionals in a region already battling health disparities,” said a letter sent Monday to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

CMS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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