Court Halts Enforcement of CMS Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Facilities

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On Tues., Nov. 30, 2021, a Louisiana federal district judge issued a nationwide order enjoining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff of hospitals and certain other healthcare facilities.

The vaccine mandate, reflected in an Interim Final Rule published on Nov. 5, 2021, would have required virtually all staff of affected healthcare facilities to have an initial dose of an approved vaccine by Dec. 5, 2021, and to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. These requirements have now been stayed, pending a final resolution of the case or further orders of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In light of this ruling, at least for the time being affected, healthcare facilities are no longer required to meet these vaccination requirements for their staff. Such facilities are permitted to implement safeguards they consider appropriate to provide safe environments for their patients, staff, visitors and others and should continue to implement the steps necessary to comply with their duties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  Such safeguards may include vaccine requirements, periodic testing, masking requirements and other steps designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Louisiana court ruling follows a ruling by a Missouri federal district judge on Mon., Nov. 29, 2021, which enjoined enforcement of the vaccine mandate in 10 states. Together, the rulings prohibit enforcement of the vaccine mandate in all states.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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