A judge has blocked the federal government from enforcing a mandate for some healthcare workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The ruling applies to Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in the Eastern District of Missouri said that arguments claiming the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lacks the authority to force healthcare workers to get vaccinated are likely to succeed. The judge's ruling only applies to the requirement covering those who work at healthcare facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Workers have until December 6 to get their first dose of a COVID vaccine.
"Truly, the impact of this mandate reaches far beyond COVID," Schelp wrote in a 32-page ruling. "CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans. Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism."
Schelp also said that the mandate could result in staff shortages, especially in rural hospitals.
"In sum, Plaintiffs' evidence shows that facilities -- rural facilities in particular -- likely would face crisis standards of care or will have no choice but to close to new patients or close altogether, both of which would cause significant, and irreparable, harm to Plaintiffs' citizens," he wrote.
In a separate ruling last week, a federal judge denied Florida's request to halt the mandate.