Iowans react to new vaccine mandate unemployment law

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AMES, Iowa — There is now concern in some businesses after the State Legislature passed a law allowing for exemptions from companies vaccine mandates, based on medical or religious views. The law also has something which concerned Iowa Association of Business and Industry.

“Really, they put some penalties that we see as penalties into the law; we’re unable to put any kind of a dollar figure on it, because it’s just unknown how many people might become unemployed because of the actions the legislature took yesterday,” said J.D. Davis of ABI.

Also, there is concern about a possible federal mandate which would require vaccination, that could but up against the Iowa law, with exemptions.

“What the legislature did, is to create a situation where employers are going to have to figure out how to comply with the federal and state mandate that we believe conflict, and so we’re gonna have to find the path of least harm,” said Davis.

At Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, there is no vaccine mandate. Over 80% of the staff is vaccinated. But the hospital could be forced to start a mandate policy. The Federal Government is evaluating a possible new policy which could cover entities which are paid federal money through Medicare.

“If a vaccine mandate comes down from the federal government, we anticipate that failure to comply with it would jeopardize funding from CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) which makes up a substantial amount of funding for really any healthcare organization,” said Steve Sullivan, a spokesperson for Mary Greeley Medical Center. “If that mandate does come down we will have to take a look at the language and the state law and figure out how conflicts between them need to be resolved.”

Sullivan said the hospital had not needed to mandate the vaccine, as there is already a culture of safe practices after years of requiring employees to get flu shots.

“Most of our companies are taking a wait and see approach,” said Dan Culhane, President and CEO of the Ames Chamber and Economic Development Group, in an email. “The concern is that if they enforce a mandate, will their employees walk across the street to another employer with less than 100 people that does not have to adhere to the mandate?”

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