A federal court halted President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in 10 states.
“The scale falls clearly in favor of healthcare facilities operating with some unvaccinated employees, staff, trainees, students, volunteers and contractors, rather than the swift, irremediable impact of requiring healthcare facilities to choose between two undesirable choices — providing substandard care or providing no healthcare at all,” wrote U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in a 32-page order Monday.
The 10 states impacted by the ruling are those that sued the Biden administration over the rule: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Biden’s Nov. 5 order applied to health workers in hospitals that receive federal funding through Medicaid or Medicare, with Biden arguing that the rule was needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 among the nation’s health care workers.
But Schelp ruled the order likely exceeded Biden’s authority, giving the ten states a temporary victory as the case continues to wind its way through the system.
“Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate, which Supreme Court precedent requires,” Schelp wrote.
The 10 states sued the administration shortly after the order was issued, arguing it encroached on states’ rights and would worsen health care worker shortages.
The ruling comes days after OSHA announced that it was suspending its enforcement of Biden’s vaccine mandate for private employers with more than 100 employees after it too was blocked by a federal court, which ruled the agency should “take no steps to implement or enforce” the regulation.
“OSHA is complying with the 5th Circuit’s stay,” a Department of Labor official said. “OSHA is not enforcing or implementing the [regulation] — so they are not engaging or offering compliance assistance.”
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