Thursday, December 8, 2022

Another case on the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers beaten down

A federal judge in Louisiana on Dec. 2 declined a case brought by 14 states challenging the Biden administration's rule that requires COVID-19 vaccination for eligible staff at healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

In November 2021, CMS announced that healthcare facilities that receive federal funding must ensure workers are vaccinated against the virus, while allowing for medical or religious exemptions. That same month, a coalition of 12 states, led by Montana, sued the Biden administration, arguing that the rule is at odds with the "anti-commandeering doctrine" in the U.S. Constitution, which states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Louisiana, was initially brought by Montana, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia. Kentucky and Ohio joined the lawsuit shortly after.

According to the Courthouse News Service, the federal judge in Louisiana found the states' contention that they will experience increased enforcement costs from the CMS rule is "conclusory and entitled to no weight."

A spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen's office told Becker's the states have 60 days to file an appeal and are considering next steps following the Dec. 2 order.

A CMS spokesperson told Becker's that CMS is aware of the federal court decision and does not comment on matters involving litigation.

A coalition of 22 states — led by Mr. Knudsen — also filed a petition in November asking CMS to withdraw the vaccine rule.