COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thousands of businesses across the country are preparing for the regulations from Occupational Safety and Health Administration on President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate announcement last month.
The Department of Labor is finalizing the text, which can possibly be done this week, and is meeting this week with many organizations ahead of a published rulemaking.
Businesses with more than 100 employees that fall under President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, are in a holding pattern. This as two bills in the Ohio Statehouse have stalled, which would prevent businesses from requiring employees to be vaccinated, not just for coronavirus, but any vaccine.
President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Steve Stivers said the chamber opposes all of it.
“While 99.5% of our members will likely never mandate a vaccine, we believe if they think it's important enough, they should be able to, and frankly, the free market will hold them accountable,” said Stivers. “318,000 employers in Ohio should be able to regulate the health and safety of their private property, their business, the way they see fit.”
Cost also comes into play. COVID-19 testing and other employees footing the bill for unvaccinated coworkers through increase health insurance premiums are a concern for business owners.
“Now that test, you know, could fall on the employer, I have a problem with that,” said Stivers. “Because if an employee chooses not to get vaccinated, and then they have to be tested as a result of it, the employee who made that choice should pay that cost.”
The Center for Community Solutions, a non-partisan think tank out of Cleveland, with an office in Columbus, says it has already cost Americans billions of dollars.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) says between June and August this year preventable COVID-related hospitalizations have among vaccinated adults is more than $5 billion.
“If you want to talk about the single most influential factor in increasing everyone's insurance premiums next year, it's going to be people who don't get their vaccinations,” said Loren Anthes, a Senior Fellow at The Center for Community Solutions. “People who are unvaccinated are going to cost everyone money in their private insurance because an average hospitalization for COVID-19 costs $50,000. And your average shot cost nothing.”
“The unvaccinated people have a higher chance of going to the hospital than vaccinated people,” said Stivers. “Even though a very small number of vaccinated people will still get a breakthrough case of COVID. In most cases, they don't get particularly sick and don’t go to the hospital and incur big bills.”
The White House has not said when the federal regulations for businesses with more than 100 employees will take effect, some industries are pushing for it to come after the holidays so they don't lose workers during the busy season.