Bill would exempt healthcare workers from vaccination mandates – Business Daily News

Tennessee health care workers who have religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine would be exempt from vaccination mandates if the Republican-led bill progresses through the state General Assembly and becomes law.

State Representatives Jason Zachary (R) and Mark Cochran (R) recently introduced the bill, which would grant COVID-19 vaccine exemptions to all healthcare workers who apply for medical and religious exemptions

House Bill 1867 would require an employer with a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy to grant the exemptions. The bill would also protect doctors from civil liability if they choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Jesse Samples, executive director of the Tennessee Health Care Association, the bill would require the attorney general’s office to establish a process for reporting violations and taking action against violators. The civil penalty would be $10,000 per violation..

“What this bill says is that in the state of Tennessee, any religious exemption will be granted,” Cochran told the Daily Post Athenian. “It is a mandate and a requirement to grant this exemption and to grant the medical exemption as long as they provide evidence from a medical professional that there are grounds for the exemption.”

The motivation for the bill exempting healthcare workers, he said, is his belief that getting vaccinated should be someone’s individual choice, according to the outlet.

According to Zachary, the bill would provide an extra layer of protection for Tennessee healthcare workers who do not wish to be vaccinated, the CBS television affiliate in Knoxville reported.

The bill, first introduced in January, is due to be heard today before the state House Commerce Committee. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services COVID-19 vaccine mandate rule is also expected to go into effect today.

Samples told the The McKnight Business Daily that the legislature added an amendment to the bill this week.

In the amendment, an employer would have up to 10 working days to grant or deny an exemption and must do so in writing.

“Employers are prohibited from dismissing or threatening to dismiss staff because a member of staff has been granted an exemption,” he added. “Under the amendment, employers cannot require staff members requesting a religious exemption to provide proof of their sincere religious beliefs and must comply with the request.”

The bill, if enacted, would not apply retroactively, Samples said. “However, a staff member fired prior to the enactment of this law for failure to comply with the vaccination mandate may reapply for the old job and cannot be denied employment solely because an exemption has been requested. “

Importantly, Samples said, the legislation would not require an employer to take or refrain from taking any action contrary to enforceable requirements previously imposed by the CMS.

Samples said he expects the bill to pass early next week in the state Senate and possibly the state House of Representatives.

Tennessee is among 16 states that asked a federal judge earlier this month to block the US government from enforcing the CMS rule in their respective states before it takes effect. The states involved They say the mandate will not only exacerbate workforce challenges in the healthcare sector, but it fails to take into account changing circumstances as new variants of COVID-19 emerge. .

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