The Bulletin Board

Lawmakers see risk of losing $160 million in federal funding over vaccine mandate exemption

By: - March 29, 2022 3:12 pm
The New Hampshire State House

Earlier this month, the House passed a bill that would require private and public employers that receive federal or state money to offer the exemption for moral objections. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

House members voted earlier this month to require public and private employers to excuse workers with moral objections from complying with a vaccine mandate. But when it comes to state and county medical facilities, a House committee is recommending against that measure over concerns of losing $160 million a year in federal funding.

The House Finance Committee will instead ask lawmakers to require those employers to offer only medical and religious exemption requests, which are currently required under federal law. The House is set to take up the committee’s amended version of House Bill 1604 Thursday.

Success is far from certain. In February, the House voted, 176-174, in favor of the original bill that included the moral objection exemption. 

And earlier this month, the House passed a similar measure, House Bill 1210, that would require private and public employers that receive federal or state money to offer the exemption for moral objections. That passed, 181-155, also largely along party lines, and is now before the Senate. 

Hospital, nursing home, and public health advocates have opposed the effort to expand vaccine mandate exemptions, especially in medical facilities, where patients are especially vulnerable. They warned that doing so could prompt the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to withhold millions in funding.

In his committee report, Rep. Jess Edwards, an Auburn Republican, noted the financial risk. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.

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