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CMS to listen to governors’ concerns about vaccine mandates in rural hospitals

WHEELING – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that he and governors from Virginia and Tennessee have been granted a telephone meeting Thursday with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services concerning their request for COVID vaccination mandates for healthcare workers in rural hospitals.

Justice, Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) asking for a waiver in their states to a Biden Administration mandate requiring all healthcare workers be vaccinated.

The governors are concerned about staffing issues at hospitals, and that some rural hospitals may be forced to close if they must dismiss unvaccinated staff members.

Medical employees have until Feb. 28 to be vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption.

“They (CMS officials) have come back to us – which is amazing to me – and said we’ll talk,” Justice said. “I think that is major progress.”

On Thursday, the three governors are to have a phone meeting with CMS officials, according to Justice.

“We’re going to be on the phone with them and maybe we can come up with some relief for our rural hospitals,” Justice said.

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