Biden vaccine mandate for health workers blocked in 10 states

Monday's ruling applies in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas
Biden Vaccine Mandate For Health Workers Blocked In 10 States
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A federal judge in Missouri blocks the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on healthcare workers in 10 states.

According to Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Missouri was the first state to file suit against the vaccine mandate on healthcare workers. Schmitt held a press conference following today’s ruling outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse in St. Louis.

“This is a huge victory for healthcare workers in Missouri and across the country, including rural hospitals who were facing near certain collapse due to this mandate,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “While today’s ruling is a victory, there’s more work to be done, and I will keep fighting to push back on this unprecedented federal overreach.”

According to Mercy Joplin, this ruling does not affect its employees. “Mercy’s requirement is a private, independent policy,” states Public Information Officer Jordan Larimore. KOAM has also reached out to Freeman and Ascension Via Christi about today’s ruling.

What does the Ruling on the Vaccine Mandate Mean?

The federal rule requires COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million workers nationwide in about 76,000 health care facilities and home health care providers that get funding from the government health programs. Workers are to receive their first dose by Dec. 6 and their second shot by Jan. 4. Today’s ruling has halted this for 10 states.

The court order said that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) had no clear authority from Congress to enact the vaccine mandate for providers participating in the two government health care programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

The preliminary injunction by St. Louis-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp applies to a coalition of suing states. They are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Similar lawsuits also are pending in other states.

Federal vs. State Authority

Biden’s administration contends federal rules supersede state policies prohibiting vaccine mandates and are essential to slowing the pandemic.

But the judge in the health care provider case wrote that federal officials likely overstepped their legal powers.

“CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans. Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism,” Schelp wrote in his order.

Even under an exceedingly broad interpretation of federal powers, “Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact the this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate,” Schelp wrote.

Other Vaccine Mandate Halted

A federal court previously placed a hold on a separate rule requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers get vaccinated or else wear masks and get tested weekly for the coronavirus.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has also filed suit to halt OSHA’s vaccine mandate on private employers and the vaccine mandate on federal contractors, both of which are awaiting court rulings.

(This article is being updated with responses from Mercy, Freeman and Via Christi hospitals)

A PDF version of today’s ruling can be found below.