JEFFERSON CITY - On Tuesday members of the House Subcommittee on Appropriations - Health, Mental Health, and Social Services met to address vaccine mandates.
President Joe Biden made an announcement last week explaining that companies that have 100 employees or more would have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face weekly testing. Healthcare facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements fall under this category.
The Missouri Health Care Association, (MHCA), believes vaccinations are essential to defeating COVID-19, but thinks that mandating them will create more resistance.
MHCA Executive Director Nikki Strong said people should have a choice.
"This is a real personal issue that's become very polarizing, that's become very political and the responses that I'm getting shows that the mandate, rather than encouraging people to get vaccinated, has almost created more resistance to becoming vaccinated because someone's gonna tell me what I'm gonna do with my body," Strong said.
According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, just over 50% of Missouri's nursing home workers are vaccinated. Missouri has one of the worst vaccination rates of nursing home workers in the nation. Florida and Louisiana are the only two states below Missouri.
Rep. Peter Merideth, (D) St. Louis, thinks that there is more of an underlying problem that is not being discussed.
"People are suffering and struggling and we're losing workers and we could be here trying to talk about a solution to the actual problem, and instead we're talking about this hot political topic," Merideth said.
He elaborated on his the concerns for having low vaccination rates.
"I'm frustrated because it seems like a common sense thing that if you're working in one of these places where you have such a high risk of people dying, we should be expecting people to be vaccinated from this and dramatically reduce the chance of causing more deaths," Merideth said.
The General Assembly will convene Wednesday for its annual veto session. It is expected that the focus will be on President Biden's vaccination efforts.