WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is having “early conversations” about possibly withholding federal funds from health care institutions that do not vaccinate their workforce.
“Yes, there are early conversations, early discussions, about a range of options. Those are all early stage. They are pre-decisional,” Psaki said.
She added that it would not apply to cruises or universities, but did not deny questions related to nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
“Certainly, we have applauded the steps taking by a number of states as it relates to nursing home and health providers to get vaccinated…that’s a positive step…that’s an area of early discussion,” Psaki stated.
The possible threat comes amid a surge in cases caused by the delta and delta plus variants of COVID-19.
The U.S. is seeing an average of more than 98,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, up from fewer than 12,000 a day in late June — though still well below the peak of 250,000 reached in January. The vast majority of new cases are among people who have not gotten vaccinated.
While vaccination rates have increased 44% in the last two weeks, some Americans remain unvaccinated. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that a third of Americans are unvaccinated with a quarter of them planning to take the vaccine by the end of 2021.
The Washington Post reports the early conversations among the Biden administration is to potentially target Medicare funding for health care facilities that don’t require vaccinations for workers.
New York, Virginia, Puerto Rico and California have all issued statewide requirements for vaccinations among frontline healthcare workers. Private healthcare hospital networks across the country have also issued their own vaccine mandates.
Other states including Florida and Texas have resisted a statewide mandate for healthcare workers.
So far the Biden administration has issued mandates for all federal employees and contractors. The military is expected to announce a similar mandate for all active duty employees soon as well.
President Joe Biden told reporters last week, “It is It’s still a question whether the federal government can mandate the whole country.”
For now, the White House has been encouraging vaccinations across the country with incentives. They have encouraged states to pay $100 to every person who gets vaccinated along with other kinds of incentives.