Health care workers (employees, volunteers, trainees, and contractors) in 10 states may have a reprieve from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate which was placed on hold by a federal district court in Missouri on November 29, 2021. The court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation and enforcement of the vaccine mandate discussed in our previous client updates, Health Care Workforce COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate: Start Your Engines! and A Few Clarifications About the CMS Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Rule. The court found that CMS had acted without authority, especially by bypassing the usual note and comment period for administrative rules. Unlike the ruling blocking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandate for large employers, the injunction stating the mandate applies only to CMS-regulated health care entities in the 10 states that filed the lawsuit.
So – what does this mean for you, CMS-regulated health care entities?
It means the following:
- If your entity is not in one of the following states, nothing has changed and you remain subject to the compliance dates: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
- The judicial system may act quickly, such that even if your entity is in one of those 10 states, the injunction may get denied leaving the original compliance dates in place.
- Other states may follow suit – or this result may affect actions pending in other states – stay tuned.