Staff Contact: Jane Drummond
Today, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri issued a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule. The order was entered in response to a challenge filed by 10 states, led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. In its ruling, the court determined that CMS required congressional authority to impose such a sweeping mandate, which alters the balance of power between autonomous states and the federal government. The ruling also noted the amount of time that has lapsed between the availability of vaccines, the president’s announcement of the mandate and the publication of the rule undermined the agency’s claim of an emergency. Finally, the court noted the rule suffered from procedural deficiencies under the Administrative Procedure Act.
The order prevents the Sunday, Dec. 5, deadline for health care workers to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from taking effect only in the states that were a party to this suit, including Missouri, and delays implementation of the rule in those states until further notice from the court. The plaintiffs will seek to make the injunction permanent based on additional evidence and proceedings before the district court. It is likely the case will be appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately to the Supreme Court. Similar cases are pending in Louisiana, Texas and Florida. The Florida court previously declined to issue an injunction against the rule.
MHA is working with the state and long-term care community to understand the influence of a mandate on the health care workforce and our organizations.