Florida Demands Biden Drop Mandate for Healthcare Workers

Florida’s state government has called on the Biden administration to bring an end to the “arbitrary” federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Simone Marstiller wrote to federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure on Monday, telling her that the mandate has put Florida’s healthcare system “at risk of collapse.”

Marstiller directed her letter to Joe Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra as well, pointing out that the mandated vaccines “do not prevent transmission or symptomatic disease.”

She wrote that Biden had announced last week that he had contracted COVID-19 even though he was “double vaccinated and double boosted.” She added that the president’s infection confirms the actual science that although the vaccines reduce risk of hospitalization, they do not prevent transmission or infection.

Marstiller added that the British government has published reports showing that the vaccine’s effectiveness at reducing risk decreases within two months of a booster shot. She said that although the facts are now indisputable, the CMS continues to enforce its arbitrary mandate on healthcare workers.

Marstiller added that the federal mandate and the “all-time high inflation” hitting the nation is impacting the ability of Florida facilities to “recruit and retain workers, keep health care costs low, and maintain sufficient resources to serve individual care.”

Her letter urged CMS and HHS to focus on actual healthcare rather than needless mandates, including “combating the opioid epidemic, reducing the number of Americans struggling with obesity, and finding a cure for cancer.”

After a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of CMS in January, the state of Florida dropped a legal challenge to the CMS mandate. The federal rule requires all workers at facilities that received Medicare or Medicaid funding to be fully vaccinated. Over 17 million Americans working at around 76,000 facilities are covered by the mandate.

Hospitals around the nation have faced staffing shortages since the mandate has been in place. A poll indicated that around 20% of U.S. healthcare workers quit their jobs at some point during the pandemic.

The Florida Hospital Association reported that in May 2022, around 70% of hospitals in the Sunshine State faced “critical staffing shortages.” It estimated that Florida would have a shortage of qualified nurses approaching 60,000 positions by 2035.

Gov. DeSantis has previously described the CMS mandate as “absolutely insane” and a disingenuous method of using federal funding to “run around the Constitutional structure.”