Can Colorado Hospitals Turn Away Unvaccinated Patients?

No.

An article from Red Voice Media, self-described as being owned by “patriots” and fighting “false narratives against conservatives,” claims that “Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) signed an executive order this week that allows hospitals to turn away those who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.” 

According to the article, the executive order “makes it clear that it authorizes discrimination against those who are not vaccinated for COVID-19.”

The claim has also been widely shared on Twitter, with one user generating thousands of likes and retweets saying that: “The dem governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, signed an executive order for hospitals & ER’s to prioritize care to the vaccinated and turn away the Un-vaxed!! This cannot be lawful!”

This is a false claim. Polis did not sign an executive order that allows hospitals to turn away unvaccinated patients. 

The executive order in question, Executive Order D 2021 135, signed on October 31, has nothing to do with unvaccinated patients. 

In an email to The Dispatch Fact Check, Elizabeth Kosar, economic recovery communications coordinator for the governor of Colorado, summarized Executive Order D 2021 135, as an order that “authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) to determine whether a hospital or freestanding emergency department is at, or reasonably anticipated to reach, capacity. CDPHE is authorized to direct those facilities to transfer patients to prevent overwhelming the capacity of a facility and its staff. The Executive Order doesn’t even mention or have anything to do with vaccination status.”

Kosar noted that  “the Executive Order states: ‘A hospital must comply with the non-waived sections of the EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act), including the requirements to provide stabilizing treatment within the hospital’s capabilities and capacity prior to the initiation of a transfer to another hospital, and to provide a medical screening examination to any individual who comes to the emergency department and requests examination or treatment.’”

In an interview with The Dispatch Fact Check, Samuel Wonacott, staff writer at Ballotpedia, also noted that the executive order does not address hospitals turning away unvaccinated patients: “It’s clear that the order doesn’t mention vaccination status.”

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