Separate Courts Block Healthcare Vax Mandate a Day Apart, Affecting Millions

December 16, 2021

On Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, U.S. District Judge Matthew Schlep for the Eastern District of Missouri blocked the federal COVID-19 mandate for healthcare workers, enjoining the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) from enforcing its new rule requiring vaccinations for all staff of participating providers. In his Memorandum and Order, Judge Schlep noted that CMS’ rule will have “vast economic and political significance” yet did not satisfy the notice and comment requirements. The Order blocked enforcement in only 10 states, including Missouri, Arkansas and New Hampshire, among others.

Vaccine Mandate Blocked for Healthcare Workers Nationwide

Just a day later, however, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty for the Western District of Louisiana issued a nearly identical decision, blocking the federal COVID-19 mandate for healthcare workers nationwide. Although Judge Doughty ruled on a lawsuit joined by only 14 states, including Ohio, he explicitly added the nationwide injunction to his ruling, expanding Judge Schlep’s earlier order. In his 34-page Order, Judge Doughty cited concerns regarding the importance of the separation of government powers during the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of constitutional authority on the part of the Biden administration. Interestingly, any appeal of Judge Doughty’s ruling will go to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which last month blocked another of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates for businesses with more than 100 employees.

CMS Emergency Regulation

The emergency regulation issued by the CMS on Nov. 4, 2021 requires all staff at providers that participate in CMS’ programs to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 6, 2021 and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. Unlike OSHA’s emergency temporary standard for employers with 100 or more employees, CMS’ emergency regulations does not permit a testing alternative. The CMS mandate is set to take effect Dec. 6, 2021 and it is estimated to affect more than 10.3 million healthcare workers.

With developments happening daily, KJK is closely monitoring the situation and will be reporting any changes or updates with vaccine mandates immediately. For more information or to discuss further, please contact Rob Gilmore at rsg@kjk.com or 216.736.7240 or Kirsten Mooney at kmb@kjk.com or 216.736.7239.