Updated on 12/01/2021

U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty in Louisiana has ordered a preliminary injunction to halt the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine requirement for health care workers. A preliminary injunction is a temporary measure to maintain the status quo until the outcome of a case is decided.

The decision came after 14 states filed a suit to prevent the rule from taking effect, including Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million health care workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” Doughty wrote in his decision. “It is not clear that even an act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional.”

Doughty wrote in his order that the plaintiff states would “suffer irreparable injury by not being able to enforce their laws which have been preempted by the CMS Mandate,” also citing the cost to state governments and employers of enforcing the mandate, jurisdictional questions and the risk of job loss for health care workers who refuse the vaccine.

This follows an earlier judgement from a federal court in Missouri that blocked the mandate in 10 states that sued CMS officials, the agency as a whole, and President Joe Biden to prevent the vaccine rule from taking effect. A vaccine requirement from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration was also temporarily blocked by the courts. That regulation applies to all companies with 100 or more employees.

Doughty’s preliminary injunction will apply in all states except for the 10 in the Missouri court case, where implementation is already blocked.

The CMS rule required health care employers that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement to implement a policy requiring staff to receive the first vaccine dose prior to providing care, treatment or services by Dec. 5, and fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. The court decisions will indefinitely suspend these deadlines.

The White House is certain to appeal these rulings, having pledged to defend the vaccine mandates against legal challenges. While the Louisiana injunction will temporarily halt implementation, this does not necessarily mean that these mandates will go away. The final outcome of the case has yet to be decided, and will almost certainly be followed by appeals by the losing side.

“This matter will ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one. However, it is important to preserve the status quo in this case,” Doughty wrote in the injunction.

Article published by Hospice News on November 30, 2021
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