Rep. Dan Crenshaw and former President Donald Trump at a Turning Point USA event in 2019.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on vaccine mandates, Houston Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX 2) is pushing a bill that would exempt healthcare workers from having to be inoculated against COVID-19 by federal mandate.
“Just last week over there at the Supreme Court they voted down the OSHA vaccine mandate, but they upheld the HHS (Health and Human Services) mandate,” Crenshaw said in a video last week
. “That means your healthcare workers across the country are still subject to a vaccine mandate. So yesterday, I introduced the No Mandates for Healthcare Workers Act. This will end this insanity, and make sure that when you go to the hospital, healthcare workers will actually be there instead of being fired.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling was something of a blow to vaccine progress. The decision acknowledged that the mandate for large private businesses would likely save thousands of American lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations but blocked it anyway by saying the power should be in Congress’ hands instead of the president's. However, the mandate was allowed to stay for healthcare workers in facilities that take Medicare and Medicaid payments, which includes most of the nation’s hospitals.
Interestingly, the text of Crenshaw's bill does not focus just on the COVID vaccine. It would prohibit HHS from mandating any vaccines, including the ones already required by most hospitals such as the MMR and Tdap. The bill also does not say whether hospitals themselves are allowed to mandate COVID vaccines, just that the government cannot make them.
Crenshaw’s claim that the vaccine mandate results in staffing shortages so far appears mostly unfounded. While some employees are leaving the industry rather than comply, a report by Fierce Healthcare shows
that companies are seeing 1 percent or less in staff losses. A University of Michigan survey
found that 8.4 percent of healthcare workers were unwilling to get vaccinated, citing popular conspiracy theories that it was developed too soon or that there may be unseen adverse effects from the vaccine. The fact that whether a person gets vaccinated has a large political ideological component
is also likely a factor.
However, experts do not believe that the mandate will lead to huge numbers of staff being let go even when hospitals stick to their guns when it comes to the mandates.
“It is unlikely that healthcare providers will institute mass firings, but they are wise to establish employment expectations that are mindful of the needs of the community that they serve,” says Dr. Britt Berrett, a professor at the Center for Healthcare Leadership & Management Jindal School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas. “Healthcare professionals can decide if they want to work for an organization that establishes these expectations…This is not our last pandemic, and this is not our first healthcare crisis. Together we will determine a path and a direction that will respond to the communities that we serve. Imagine if the COVID pandemic had the same lethality as ebola! Our healthcare policies are well-served with open and collaborative dialogue on how to move forward.”
Regardless, Crenshaw’s bill has zero chance of actually becoming law. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is unlikely to bring it to the floor, and President Biden is almost certain to veto it even if it did somehow pass. Even among Republicans, it’s not clear that there would be the necessary support to override a veto. Crenshaw’s stand is legislatively meaningless, and serves only to further the anti-vaccine cause by lending it political clout.