January 8, 2022

What's the most important issue concerning the vaccine mandate?

All eyes are now on the U.S. Supreme Court, as we await their decisions on allowing vaccine mandates for employers and health care providers who accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. While others focus on how this shiny object may impact health care access, I ask the question: "What about the health care worker shortages already evident throughout the system?

The Great Health Care Resignation of 2021 and Beyond began long before any of us had ever heard the term "pandemic." One-third to one-half of today's health care workers will reach retirement age by the end of this decade, just as utilization by aging and chronically ill patients dramatically rises. Along with professional burnout, those inevitable factors make for a very predictable crisis in health care access. How a vaccine mandate will exacerbate this medical emergency remains to be seen.

Once the legal arguments are settled, I hope our policy makers and health care stakeholders will begin to take a serious look at the health care worker shortages that will not go away with the eradication of Covid-19.