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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to require new employee vaccinations


Detroit — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on Friday informed its employees that the insurance provider now is eyeing a phased return-to-office in January, with new requirements around COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.

The organization, which is headquartered downtown, has set a target date for a "phased-in approach" to returning to the office Jan. 18. Meanwhile, BCBSM will require all employees and contractors to disclose their vaccination status and undergo weekly testing if they report being unvaccinated. And beginning in November, BCBSM will require new employees and contractors to provide proof of vaccination.

"How and when we all can safely return to the office has been top of mind for all of us, including our senior leadership team," Daniel Loepp, BCBSM president and CEO, wrote in a memo to employees. "A cross-functional group of leaders has been meeting and reviewing facility, technology, safety and other requirements that must be implemented prior to more employees returning."

Loepp said the company also has been "closely tracking the increase in COVID-19 variant cases across the country" amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. The January return-to-office date "recognizes the trends we are seeing in COVID-19 variants, provides time to make the changes necessary for more employees to safely return to the office environment, provides notice to adjust our daily routines, and continues to promote on-site employee safety," Loepp said.

His memo notes President Joe Biden's announcement earlier this month of sweeping new rules that would mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require their workers to be vaccinated or be tested weekly for the virus.

"We're working within our organization to determine how our company will be affected by these requirements, and how we will implement regulations as they are finalized," Loepp told employees. The new vaccination status and testing policies, he said, are "consistent with our priority to protect our workforce" and "in the spirit of what the president is requiring businesses like ours to do."

All BCBSM employees and contractors — including those who previously said they prefer not to answer or who have not attested to their status because they don't work in a BCBSM facility — will be required to disclose their vaccination status using a company tool. The tool will be updated with the new requirement Monday, and workers will have until Oct. 8 to report their status.

Meanwhile, the weekly testing requirement for those who are unvaccinated applies to those who report to a facility. Further details on testing are expected the week of Oct. 4, Loepp said.

Loepp closed out the memo by urging unvaccinated employees to get the vaccine, calling it "one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19."

jgrzelewski@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @JGrzelewski