Iowa joins 4 other states in keeping unemployment aid for refusing vaccine rule

At least five Republican-led states, including Iowa, have extended unemployment benefits to people who have lost their jobs due to vaccination warrants, and a handful more may soon follow.

Workers who quit or are fired for just cause – including for defying company policy – are generally not eligible to claim unemployment benefits. But Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have exceptions made for those who will not undergo the coronavirus vaccination schedules that many companies now require. Similar ideas have been launched in Wyoming, Wisconsin and Missouri.

The changes are part of other state moves aimed at reducing what critics say is President Joe Biden’s overbreadth in healthcare decisions. Its vaccine or testing requirement for companies with 100 or more employees – which Iowa is among the contested states – and a separate vaccine mandate for healthcare workers will get a September 7 hearing in the Supreme Court of Canada. United States.

Biden told a group of governors on Monday that the next step in dealing with the pandemic will have to come from the states.

“Look, there is no federal solution,” he said after joining the White House COVID-19 response team’s regular call with the National Governors Association. “This is resolved at the state level.”

In his first public remarks on the pandemic after Christmas, Biden nonetheless sought to highlight what his administration is doing to respond to the omicron variant outbreak.

“We are mobilizing 1,000 additional military nurses and nurses to help hospital staff,” he said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency “is deploying hundreds of ambulances and EMS teams to transport patients.”

“At the end of the day, we want to assure the American people that we are ready,” Biden added.

The president also pointed out that the availability of vaccines has left Americans in a much safer place today than at the start of the pandemic – if only more people were using them.

Critics of the state’s new unemployment benefits say those states are encouraging people to skip injections which public health experts say offer the best line of defense against the coronavirus. In Iowa, for example, more than 81 percent of patients treated last week in state hospitals were unvaccinated.

Observers say it’s a mark of the politicization of the coronavirus – with fights erupting over business closures, mask warrants and more – and how it has clouded state policy and changed positions for a long time. Not too long ago, they note, two dozen Republican-led states decided to cut supplemental federal unemployment assistance to force residents to return to the workforce and ease labor shortages. -work.

“These governors, who are using the UI system in a moment of political theater to make a statement on the vaccine’s mandate, are the same people who turned off unemployment benefits early for millions of workers over the past decade. ‘summer,’ said Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the left-wing National Employment Law Project. Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee and Florida cut federal unemployment assistance early.

But supporters insist Americans should be able to decide for themselves whether to get the vaccine.

Kansas Republican Senate Speaker Ty Masterson has widely criticized the vaccination mandates as ineffective and unfair, tweeting at one point: Fauci, whose advice during the pandemic made him a target for the Right.

Masterson also dismissed concerns that the rule changes would lead to a wave of jobless claims that could drain the state’s unemployment insurance fund and weigh on businesses.

“To have a hit on the fund, you have to have an employer who denies the employee’s medical and individual rights and terminates them for it,” Masterson said. “Simple solution: don’t do this.”

It is not known how many workplaces require vaccinations among their staff. An October Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that around a quarter of those polled said their employers had a mandatory vaccination requirement.

As of December, at least 2,640 of the country’s 6,000 hospitals had some form of vaccine requirement, according to data on file with the American Hospital Association. That’s around 44%, up from around 41% in October.

Surveys suggest that relatively few people have left their jobs because of the company’s vaccination mandates; Kaiser’s poll shows that 5% of unvaccinated adults fall into this category.

In a special session in October, Iowa lawmakers passed House File 902, a bill intended to ease the financial blow associated with COVID-19 layoffs on a vaccine term. The new law would also allow employees of private companies in Iowa to claim that they are medically vulnerable or have a religious objection to a mandated vaccine solely on the basis of their statements, rather than with professional support. sincerity.

A few other states are considering similar measures.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, a Wyoming House bill focused on benefits for workers leaving employers over federal vaccine policies was under consideration in a special session last week. . A similar measure was proposed by Republicans in Wisconsin before being opposed by the Democratic governor, according to the Wisconsin Examiner.

Missouri Chamber of Commerce President Dan Mehan has said he expects the issue of unemployment benefits for the unvaccinated to come up soon and prepare to fight it.

“We don’t want undue costs to be involved because of this,” Mehan said.

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