As another special session of the Texas Legislature kicks off, lawmakers are once again looking to ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers, just as they did earlier this year – and a key bill to enact that sweeping ban is up for a hearing today. The Texas Hospital Association needs your help to make sure hospitals can use their judgment to require vaccinations when appropriate – and can stay compliant with any future federal mandates.
Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) would prohibit an employer from adopting or enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, and prohibit the employer from taking any adverse action against that employee or contractor. The bill would fulfill one of the items on Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda in his call for the third special session of 2023, in which the governor called for legislation “prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers.” It will be heard in today’s meeting of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services and is expected to move very quickly through the Senate.
Jennifer Banda, J.D., senior vice president, advocacy & public policy, 512/465-1046, [email protected]
Carrie Kroll, vice president, advocacy, quality and public policy, 512/465-1043, [email protected]
THA will testify against the bill in today’s hearing, noting that hospitals have longstanding processes to identify and respond to infectious disease threats.
Hospitals must be considered separately from other businesses and must be exempt from any such legislation. First, they know their own environments and communities. Instead of being hamstrung by one-size-fits-all legislation, our facilities must reserve decision-making authority on their own COVID-19 vaccine mandates based on their unique situation, including the state of disease in the area and the composition and culture of each community. Hospitals should be exempt from a one-size-fits-all business prohibition because hospitals already have processes in place to require specific vaccines as needed, with allowed religious and medical exemptions.
Second, if the state bans hospitals from instituting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and it were to conflict with a future federal vaccine mandate – such as the federal mandate that was in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency – hospitals risk losing federal funding, which in many cases will threaten their survival. An exemption from a potential COVID-19 vaccine mandate ban could prove essential to keeping our facilities operating.
THA successfully made these arguments to exempt hospitals from similar legislation earlier this year during the Legislature’s regular session. Help us do it again by reaching out to your state senator to oppose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate ban for hospitals.
More information on THA’s position on COVID-19 vaccination mandates is available here.
Action Requested: Please use THA’s Action Center to contact your state senator and tell them to communicate to Sen. Middleton that hospitals mustn’t face a ban on mandating COVID-19 vaccines. The pre-written message in the Action Center reflects THA’s stance that hospitals must reserve the right to impose vaccine mandates if the facility’s unique situation, and that of its community, warrant that action. You can also customize your message to tell your personal story about how a ban would affect your facility.