September 15, 2021

Around the nation: Florida governor threatens 'millions' in fines for cities, counties with vaccine mandates

Daily Briefing

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said cities and counties requiring Covid-19 vaccination for their employees could potentially face "millions" in fines, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, Florida, Illinois, and New York.

    • California/Illinois: Blue Shield of California and Walgreens are partnering to offer health care services to the insurer's commercial members in California. According to Modern Healthcare, these services—which include blood pressure screenings, blood tests to diagnose diabetes, and more—aim to improve condition management and provide whole-person care. Patients will be able to access these services and consult with pharmacists, dietitians, and nurses at Walgreens' Health Corner locations. The program will begin later this year and offer in-store, at-home, and virtual care to eligible Blue Shield beneficiaries by early next year. "Walgreens is excited to join forces with Blue Shield of California for this community health effort," Vish Sankaran, CIO at Walgreens Boots Alliance, said. "By leveraging our trusted retail pharmacy locations, deep health care experience, and community relationships, together we are uniquely positioned to bridge gaps in care for many Californians to create a more seamless and convenient consumer experience." (Brady, Modern Healthcare, 9/10)
    • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday said the state will fine cities and counties $5,000 for each employee that they require to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Currently, a state law prohibits businesses and governments from requiring proof of vaccination from customers or employees. "We are not going to let people get fired because of the vaccine mandate," DeSantis said, adding that local governments requiring vaccines could face "millions and millions of dollars" in potential fines. According to Axios, Gainesville, Orange County, and Leon County have passed vaccine mandates for their employees. Jerry Demings, the mayor of Orange County, acknowledged that the fines could be "a lot of money," but said, "At the end of the day, it is our goal to protect the people in our greater community, to keep them safe, which is a fundamental role of government." (Mower, Tampa Bay Times, 9/14; Chen, Axios, 9/13)
    • New York: Lewis County General Hospital will "pause" its maternity services beginning Sept. 25 after several employees chose to resign instead of getting a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination, Axios reports. At least six unvaccinated maternity workers have resigned, and 165 staffers, or around 27% of the hospital's workforce, is currently unvaccinated, according to CEO Gerald Cayer. "The number of resignations received leaves us no choice to pause delivering babies at Lewis County General Hospital," Cayer said. "It is my hope that the (New York) Department of Health will work with us in pausing the service rather than closing the maternity department." (Reyes, Axios, 9/12)

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