U.S. District Courts Block Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers
On Monday, November 29, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Schelp of the Eastern District of Missouri, issued a preliminary injunction which prohibited implementation and enforcement of the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers. The preliminary injunction only applies to states which joined as Plaintiffs in the suit: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
On Tuesday, November 30, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty of the Eastern District of Louisiana, issued a separate preliminary injunction of the same rule but ordered the injunction be applicable nation-wide with the exception of those states covered by the preliminary injunction issued in the Eastern District of Missouri.
The vaccine mandate rule was adopted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) on November 5, 2021. Covered providers were to begin the vaccination process by December 6, 2021. The rule applied to employees of Medicare and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers that are regulated under the Medicare health and safety standards. Both courts found that the respective plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits because Congress did not provide CMS authority to issue the mandate regulation and CMS did not provide an appropriate notice and comment period prior to adopting the regulation. The courts further found the mandate would likely cause the plaintiff’s irreparable harm and it was in the public interest to enjoin the mandate. As such, the courts issued the preliminary injunctions prohibiting CMS from implementing and/or enforcing the rule. It is anticipated that the government will appeal the preliminary injunctions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th and 5th Circuits respectively.
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