Around the nation: Court denies unemployment to employee fired for not being vaccinated

Bite-sized hospital and health industry news

  • Kansas: A state court has ruled that a hospital can deny unemployment benefits to a former employee who was fired for refusing a flu vaccination. In 2013, McPherson Hospital began requiring all employees to receive the flu vaccine except in cases of medical or religious exemptions. Debra Rhodenbaugh, an ED clerk, applied for a religious exemption and provided a note from her doctor saying she "prefers to defer" her vaccination. The hospital considered the note insufficient, and Rhodenbaugh was later fired. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel found the hospital's policy to be reasonable and said that Rhodenbaugh's refusal to be vaccinated amounted to job-related misconduct (AP/Modern Healthcare, 5/1).

  • Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday voted 32-2 to approve a bill that would increase the legal age at which residents can purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. If the bill is enacted, Massachusetts could become the second state, after Hawaii, to raise the statewide age threshold to 21. More than 100 cities and towns in Massachusetts, including Boston, already impose the higher age limit. State Sen. Jason Lewis (D), who authored the bill, says the proposal could decrease smoking among middle and high school students. He adds, "Young people whose brains are still developing and haven't reached full maturity are particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction" (Salsberg, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/28).

  • Rhode Island: Lifespan, the state's largest health system, has partnered with four physician practices across the state. The partnership, called Community Physician Partners, will allow the physicians to access Lifespan-affiliated insurers without formally joining the health system. Officials say the partnership will also improve care coordination. The four practices—Anchor Medical Associates, Medical Associates of Rhode Island, University Internal Medicine, and University Medicine—include approximately 170 primary care physicians (Castellucci, Modern Healthcare, 4/29).

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