Nearly 140 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate could force at least one more to shut its doors.
President Joe Biden's administration is taking steps to require millions of American workers, including certain healthcare workers, to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The plan requires those who work at hospitals and other types of medical facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Brownfield (Texas) Regional Medical Center, a rural hospital, will lose up to 25 percent of its employees if the vaccine mandate is enforced, CEO Jerry Jasper told KCBD.
Losing those workers would probably shut down the hospital because some nurses have already quit to take jobs with nursing agencies that offer higher pay, according to the report.
Not complying with the vaccine mandate and losing Medicare and Medicaid funding isn't an option for Brownfield Regional Medical Center. About 80 percent of the hospital's funding comes from Medicare and Medicaid, Mr. Jasper told KCBD.
The vaccine mandate puts Texas hospital leaders in a complicated position because Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning public hospitals from enacting COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
"How's Governor Abbott going to take this? He hasn't complied with anything federal laws have done so far," Mr. Jasper told KCBD.
"So, we're going to have to, here in Texas at least, we're going to have to wait and see how it plays out."
Mr. Jasper isn't the only hospital chief in Texas grappling with how to respond to the vaccine mandate.
"I've got President Biden telling me he's going to mandate it, but I have Gov. Abbott who says I cannot mandate it," Adam Willman, CEO of Clifton-based Goodall-Witcher Healthcare, told the Texas Tribune Sept. 10.