Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandate Reaches the Supreme Court

According to predictions, the mandate for vaccines for health workers was the first mandate from the Biden administration’s. The Department of Justice requested the Supreme Court today to stay injunctions by the lower courts against the mandate. They cited (among others) a circuit split regarding the issue.

At the White House’s request, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued an interim final ruling in November requiring that all Medicare and Medicaid provider workers obtain COVID-19 shots. Many states brought lawsuits to stop the rule and requested preliminary injunctions that it be stopped from being enforced while the merits of the case are decided.

Both circuit courts of appels that considered injunctions against CMS mandate came to opposite conclusions. Here, I note that the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Eleventh Circuit declined to enjoin any rule. It concluded that this challenge would not succeed on the merits. U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit came to the opposite conclusion and refused to maintain a nationwide ban on the rule. A reasonable possibility exists for a Supreme Court reaction due to this split in authority and multiple injunctions against the rule.

Interesting is the fact that the CMS mandate is being sent to the Court before the more prominent OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard. This is currently being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. The issues it raises are slightly different. There are slightly different issues. The support for mandating the vaccination of healthcare workers is stronger than that of employees of larger companies. However, the CMS rule is significantly stricter than OSHA’s rule because it doesn’t allow for a testing option. Additionally, the CMS rule will be enforced as a condition for federal spending. This includes participation in Medicare and Medicaid. It is not a direct federal regulation. In both instances, the challengers emphasize the unusual nature of vaccine requirements and wonder if Congress actually authorized their imposition.