Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Biden Administration’s Vaccine Policy for Health Care Workers Blocked Nationwide

 On Nov. 30, a federal district court in Louisiana ruled that the directive for health care workers is temporarily blocked nationwide, following a decision on Nov. 29 from a federal district court in Missouri that blocked the Biden administration's vaccine directive for health care workers in 10 states. 

However, also on Nov. 29, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer denied a request from workers for a Massachusetts hospital system to suspend the system's COVID-19 vaccine requirement. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.

States Argued the Directive Would Lead to Staffing Shortages

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Schelp in Missouri appeared persuaded by the 10 states' argument that the mandate would lead to staffing shortages. "The scale falls clearly in favor of health care facilities operating with some unvaccinated employees, staff, trainees, students, volunteers and contractors, rather than the swift, irremediable impact of requiring health care facilities to choose between two undesirable choices—providing substandard care or providing no health care at all," Schelp wrote in a 32-page order.

(The Hill)

Federal Government Overreach?

In a lawsuit filed Nov. 10 against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 10 states—Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—claimed that the federal government has overreached its authority to dictate what happens in their states. "This case illustrates why the police power over compulsory vaccination has always been the province of—and still properly belongs to—the states," they said in the lawsuit. 

(The New York Times

Judge: Congressional Approval Needed to Require Vaccinations

The CMS did not get approval from Congress to require vaccinations for health care workers, Schelp wrote. He asserted this was necessary given the directive's "vast economic and political significance." He also noted the rules were issued without a standard period for public comment. 

"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," the judge wrote. "Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism."

(Springfield News-Leader)

Health Care Providers Preparing for Staff Shortages

Some hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers are preparing to operate without up to one-third of their staff at the start of next year if those workers don't comply with the federal vaccine directive.

(The Wall Street Journal)

Louisiana District Court Judge's Opinion

"There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million health care workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency," Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana wrote. He added, "It is not clear that even an act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional."

(The New York Times)

By Allen Smith, J.D.

November 30, 2021