January 20, 2022
*NOT FOR EXTERNAL DISTRIBUTION*
AUTHOR: Brett Kelman
HCA Healthcare, largest hospital company in the United States, will once again require its medical professionals and hospital workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding vaccine mandates for most health care workers.
The court last week struck down a Biden Administration mandate that applied to large employers but left in place narrower requirement for health care workers at hospitals and facilities receiving funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
For much of last year, HCA required vaccines for its health care workers in accordance with this mandate. But after the mandate was temporarily suspended by a federal judge in early December, HCA was one of several large hospital chains that dropped its requirement while awaiting a final decision from the Supreme Court, according to reports from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Harlow Sumerford, an HCA spokesperson, confirmed Tuesday the requirement is back.
“Given the recent Supreme Court ruling, we will implement, in accordance with the CMS mandate rules, the requirement to vaccinate our healthcare workers who are covered by this policy, unless they qualify for an exemption,” Sumerford said in an email statement. “If we do not comply with the CMS mandate, we could compromise our ability to serve our communities and provide care to patients under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
HCA’s suspension of its vaccine mandate took effect as the omicron variant was taking hold in the United States, spreading coronavirus faster than ever before. Many hospitals, including those in Tennessee, are struggling with severe staffing shortages due to virus-related absences.
HCA is headquartered in Nashville and owns the TriStar hospitals throughout Middle Tennessee. The company owns 186 hospitals in 20 states and employees about 47,000 doctors and more than 93,000 nurses, according to the company’s website.
Approximately 90% of the company’s employees have been fully vaccinated or are approved for a medical or religious exemption to the vaccination mandate, Sumerford said.