Courts Halt Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers Nationwide
By: Margaret Young Levi
As we previously reported, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Interim Final Rule on November 5, 2021 that requires nearly every employee, volunteer, and contractor working at 15 categories of Medicare and Medicaid healthcare facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022 (the “CMS Vaccine Mandate”). On November 29, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the CMS Vaccine Mandate for health care workers in only 10 states, which were the states that brought the lawsuit (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota).
The following day, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a “nationwide” preliminary injunction staying enforcement of the CMS Vaccine Mandate in the remaining 40 states. Kentucky was one of the 14 states that brought the lawsuit in Louisiana. Xavier Becerra, the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), and other defendants, filed an appeal December 1, 2021. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear the appeal. The district court judge denied HHS’ request to stay the preliminary injunction pending the appeal. Accordingly, the preliminary injunction will remain in place during the appeal.