Idaho Acting Governor McGeachin Wants Answers On Mandate
Is there a quid pro quo that would explain why three of the state's largest healthcare providers have told employees that they must be vaccinated or face termination? She has continued to look at this issue to investigate the sudden cause for all three providers to act on the same day.
Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, the acting governor, has sent a formal inquiry to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen, requesting additional information on what incentives may exist for Idaho healthcare providers to impose vaccines mandates on their employees. We've learned of this request through a release from her office.
This request follows McGeachin's discussion with Gov. Little last week, in which she asked the governor directly what factors might be driving these mandate impositions. The governor replied that it is "not a state issue."
In a press conference held by McGeachin last week on vaccine mandates, she posed the question publicly, asking what drove the sudden move from all three of Idaho's major healthcare providers to mandate these vaccines concurrently. "Their policies seem to be written in conjunction," McGeachin said. "All three are not only forcing their employees to be vaccinated but also imposing such mandates on all of their contractors and vendors."
A proposed 721-page federal rule from the Biden administration, published in the Federal Register on May 10, 2021, calls for adopting "the COVID–19 Vaccination Coverage Among Healthcare Personnel measure beginning with the FY 2023 program year," and calls for publicly reporting the vaccination rates of healthcare providers.
Of the proposed rule McGeachin said, "Could this new federal policy be the underlying incentive driving Idaho's healthcare providers to mandate vaccines and intrude upon the personal health choices of their employees, contractors, and vendors?"
Of additional concern is how the Biden administration would track the vaccination rates of healthcare personnel as called for in the proposed federal rule.
Idaho is operating under an Executive Order that says, "No department, agency, board, commission, or other executive branch entity or official of the State of Idaho shall ... Provide information of an individual's COVID-19 vaccine status to any person, company, or government entity for inclusion in a COVID-19 vaccine passport program."
"I am very concerned that the Biden administration is encouraging employers who violate the self-determination of their employees," said McGeachin. "I am also troubled that the administration is tracking or intends to track the vaccination status of Idahoans. We must take steps to protect our personal privacy and state sovereignty from such intrusion."
Today's actions follow McGeachin's press conference on vaccine mandates held on July 15 as well as large anti-mandate rallies held both that day and Monday July 19, each attended by hundreds of participants including many healthcare workers.
Once again, McGeachin is calling on Saint Alphonsus Health System, St. Luke's Health System, and Primary Health Medical Group to suspend their soon-to-be-implemented vaccine mandates and encouraging them to sit down at the table with stakeholders to discuss the matter.
"Today, as acting Governor of the State of Idaho, I am reiterating my call for Idaho healthcare providers to suspend their vaccine mandates, come to the table, and have a good-faith discussion with stakeholders including their own employees and the executive and legislative branches of Idaho government," McGeachin said. "While some have encouraged me to take more direct action today, I am providing time for the healthcare providers to reconsider their mandates and accept my invitation. I encourage them to use this time wisely."
"This issue isn't going away and the people of Idaho need their leaders to act quickly on the matter," said McGeachin. "In as little as six weeks, we could see hundreds or even thousands of Idaho healthcare workers lose their jobs at a time when we are already facing a shortage of these critical frontline workers."
McGeachin said she is willing to work with stakeholders and assist in facilitating productive dialog. "First, the mandates need to be suspended," she said. "We can't have meaningful discourse as long as these employers are threatening to terminate employees for their personal, private medical decisions."
We have requested and obtained a copy of the letter. Here is the text of the letter to Director Jepson.
July 20, 2021
Director Dave Jeppesen,
On May 10, 2021, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, administered under the Department of Health and Human Services, issued proposed administrative rule Federal Register Volume 86, Number 88 relating to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
This proposed rule solicited comments which were due June 28, 2021. Did the IDHW submit any written comments on this proposed rule? Given the recent announcement by Idaho's three largest healthcare providers that they will require employees, vendors, suppliers and others to be vaccinated to continue employment, can you comment as to how this requirement is supported under the proposed rule? In this rule, HHS proposes the adoption of the COVID–19 Vaccination Coverage Among Healthcare Personnel measure beginning with the FY 2023 program year. Does the IDHW support this measure? If so, how would the department intend to assist in administering the plan?
The rule contemplates performance measures within hospitals and long term care facilities. What conversations, if any, has your department had with the hospitals and long term care facilities regarding this concept?
Would the implementation of this proposed federal rule violate Governor Little's Executive Order (2), which states that 'all departments, agencies, boards, commissions, and other executive branch entities of the State of Idaho are directed to immediately take steps to rescind, alter, or suspend any administrative rules in conflict with this Executive Order'?
Would the publication of the HCP vaccination rates, as suggested under the proposed rule, violate any Idaho statute or rule as it relates to the personal healthcare decisions of Idahoans? Are you aware of the standards which are proposed to be put into place to report vaccination data of Health Care Personnel in Idaho? I appreciate your timely response to this important matter for our citizens.
Governor Janice McGeachin
This letter by the acting governor continues to focus on the issue of forced mandates for healthcare workers. Is the Biden Administration behind these forced mandates? Idahoans have a right to know if their state has stood with them or allowed Joe to run the show. Healthcare workers have held two rallies drawing significant crowds demanding their elected leaders stand up for them.