We told them if they move forward with a COVID vaccine mandate on healthcare workers, it is going to lead to the shutdown of rural healthcare facilities here in Montana. Today, I saw the news: "Financial strife closes 7 nursing homes."

The Billings Gazette article cites "anemic Medicaid reimbursement rates, staffing, wage pressures and inflation" for the shut down of Big Horn Senior Living in Big Horn County. Mountain View in Ronan was also listed.

Others include Valley View Estates in Hamilton, Bridger Rehab and Care Center in Bozeman, Hillside Health and Rehab in Missoula, Cedar Wood Villa in Red Lodge and Hi-Line Retirement in Malta, which switched from a nursing home to an assisted living facility.

Last November when I caught up with Montana's Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R-MT) he was hearing the same concerns I was. Rural healthcare providers, especially in Eastern Montana, were worried that forcing a COVID vaccine would lead to a mass exodus of employees.

Here's part of our back-and-forth from November 19th, 2021:

Aaron Flint: I think we all can see the very train wreck that is fast approaching...if something isn't done to clear the tracks here, because they are deliberately going to cause another crisis and make the crisis worse.

AG Austin Knudsen: And this absolutely is a crisis, Aaron. I was talking with a county commissioner in in eastern Montana, yesterday. They've got a huge percentage of their workers at their county, long term health facility- the nursing home. That's run by the county. They're going to have a mass walk off of employees. And what are they supposed to do at this point? They've got patients in that facility. It's vital to the community in eastern Montana that this was in and they don't know what to do. I mean, he's calling me going, Holy cow. Is this going to get blocked? Is this going to go into place? What are we supposed to do? And this is going on all over Montana here, you're going to have a train wreck here. To use your analogy. We already have a worker shortage in the healthcare industry in Montana. This is going to make it exponentially worse. This is a disaster.

Click here for the full audio from that show.

Later in that same conversation, I also referenced this tweet from the same morning back in November of 2021:

In late November of 2021, nearly 1,000 people in Montana rallied against the federal vaccine mandate targeting healthcare workers.

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