10 Republican-led U.S. states have challenged the power of the Federal Government to impose a vaccine mandate on the nation’s healthcare workers, with the lawsuit arguing that the policy would put even more pressure on an already understaffed service, particularly in rural areas. Republican-led states have also attempted to block a federal mandate decreeing that all businesses which hire more than 100 staff must ensure that their employees receive the vaccine or face hefty fines. The Guardian has the story.
All of the mandates are scheduled to take effect on January 4th.
The Biden administration contends that the federal rules supersede state policies prohibiting vaccine mandates and are essential to slowing the pandemic, which has killed more than 755,000 people in the U.S. But the New Orleans-based fifth circuit court of appeals already has temporarily blocked the business vaccine rule, saying it raises “grave statutory and constitutional issues”.
A separate rule issued last week by the federal Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires Covid vaccinations for more than 17 million workers in about 76,000 healthcare facilities and home healthcare providers that get funding from Government health programs.
The new lawsuit contends that the CMS vaccine requirement is unprecedented and unreasonably broad, affecting even volunteers and staff who don’t typically work with patients.
“The mandate is a blatant attempt to federalize public health issues involving vaccination that belong within the States’ police power”, said the suit filed by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate.
Joining the lawsuit were the attorney generals of Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. All are Republicans except for Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa, whose state is led by Republican governor Kim Reynolds.
A CMS spokesperson declined to comment about the lawsuit.
The lawsuit points to concerns from rural hospital administrators in Missouri and Nebraska. For example, it says that Great Plains Health in North Platte, Nebraska, is able to staff only about 70 of its 116 beds because of workforce shortages and has received notice from a majority of personnel in its behavioural health unit that they would resign rather than be vaccinated.
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