CMS suspends enforcement of COVID-19 vaccination mandate

CMS has suspended implementation and enforcement of its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers pending developments in litigation, the agency said in a Dec. 2 memorandum.

CMS confirmed the suspension after judges in Missouri and Louisiana issued preliminary injunctions temporarily halting the start of the COVID-19 vaccination mandate. 

An injunction issued Nov. 30 by a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocks CMS from enforcing its vaccination mandate for healthcare workers until legal challenges are resolved. The injunction effectively expanded a separate order issued Nov. 29 by a federal judge in Missouri that temporarily halted the mandate in 10 states. 

While the preliminary injunctions are in effect, CMS said surveyors must not survey healthcare providers for compliance with the vaccination requirements. 

Though CMS has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the vaccination rules, the agency said it "remains confident in its authority to protect the health and safety of patients in facilities certified by the Medicare and Medicaid programs." 

The CMS mandate requires healthcare facilities paid by Medicare and Medicaid to establish a policy ensuring workers are fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. The regulation allows exemptions based on religious beliefs or recognized medical conditions.

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