12 more states challenge healthcare worker vaccination mandate

A coalition of 12 states sued the federal government Nov. 15 to block a CMS mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccination for eligible staff at healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

The 12 states, led by Montana, are arguing that the mandate is at odds with the Social Security Act's focus on providing access to patient care, according to the lawsuit. They also argue that implementing the mandate exceeds the statutory authority of CMS and that the mandate violates multiple federal laws, the spending clause, the anti-commandeering doctrine, and the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to the lawsuit.

The vaccination mandate "causes grave danger to the vulnerable persons whom Medicare and Medicaid were designed to protect — the poor, children, sick and the elderly — by forcing the termination of millions of essential 'healthcare heroes,'" the 49-page complaint alleges.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Louisiana, was brought by Montana, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

It marks the latest challenge to the federal requirements, which are expected to cover more than 17 million workers in hospitals and other healthcare settings nationwide, including about 76,000 providers.

To comply with this regulation, healthcare facilities must establish a policy ensuring staff have received at least one vaccine dose before providing any treatment or other services by Dec. 6. Staff must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. The regulation also requires healthcare facilities to develop plans and processes to provide exemptions and accommodations as appropriate.

The complaint from the 12-state coalition follows a lawsuit filed Nov. 10 by a coalition of 10 states over the healthcare worker vaccination mandate.

Legal action has also been taken over the federal government's vaccinate-or-test mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans kept its temporary halt on that mandate in a decision issued Nov. 12. 

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