On the last day of November, a nationwide injunction was issued by a federal judge in Louisiana to freeze the COVID-19 vaccine mandate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the injunction should not have been applied nationwide. Instead, it should have only applied to a group of 14 states that had sued over the mandate in the first place.
Those states were: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.
In addition to those 14 states, another group of 10 states had also previously filed a lawsuit targeting the CMS vaccine mandate, leading to a seperate injunction.
In light of Wednesday’s ruling, the CMS mandate – and potentially its compliance dates – are once again live for a majority of U.S. states. The mandate remains temporarily blocked in 24 states overall, as litigation moves forward.
“The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal government defendants move to stay a district court’s nationwide, preliminary injunction that bars enforcement of one of the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates,” the decision read. “The enjoined mandate applies to the staff of many Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, home-health agencies and hospices. We deny the motion insofar as the order applies to the 14 Plaintiff States. We grant a stay as to the order’s application to any other jurisdiction.”
The original compliance deadline for health care workers in Medicare- and Medicaid-based settings was early January. Between the multiple injunctions and Wednesday’s ruling, it is unclear whether that date will still be enforced or if the deadline will be extended.
“It leaves employers in kind of a tough spot, but it’s a situation where you’ve got to hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” William Vail, a shareholder at Polsinelli, told Home Health Care News at the time. “But the prudent thing to do is go ahead and take all the steps you can to come into compliance with the rules you think are going to be covering you.”
The health care worker vaccine mandate will likely find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Though we deny the stay generally, we also consider whether the preliminary injunction should remain in effect beyond the 14 states that have brought this suit,” Wednesday’s ruling continued. “Principles of judicial restraint control here. Other courts are considering these same issues, with several courts already and inconsistently ruling.”
This article was written by Andrew Donlan on December 15th, 2021 for Home Health Care News and can be found here. Please be sure to visit HomeHealthCareNews.com for more articles written by Andrew and other quality contributors.