A federal judge blocked a Biden administration vaccine mandate requiring healthcare workers in ten states to get vaccinated against COVId-19. The judge said the agency that issued the rule against the coronavirus likely exceeded its authority.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in St. Louis prevents the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers until the court can hear legal challenges brought by the 10 states.
“Truly, the impact of this mandate reaches far beyond COVID,” Schelp wrote. “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 labeled the mandate “arbitrary and capricious,” arguing that CMS “lacks evidence showing that vaccination status has a direct impact on spreading COVID’ in the covered health care facilities: the agency has primarily pointed to data from long-term facilities in its defense.
“No one questions that protecting patients and healthcare workers from contracting COVID is a laudable objective, Schelp wrote.” But the court cannot, in good faith, allow CMS to enact an unprecedented mandate that lacks a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.”
The ruling is the second legal setback for President Joe Biden, who has focused on vaccines to halt the COVID-19 pandemic, a point he emphasized on Monday amid concerns about the spread of the new Covid-10 Omicron variant.
A federal appeals court in New Orleans earlier this month blocked a sweeping workplace mandate that requires businesses with at least 100 employees to get their staff vaccinated or tested weekly.
Schelp’s ruling applied in the ten states that brought the case and was led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, alongside Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota and New Hampshire.
Schelp’s order blocks the federal government from requiring providers in those states to require vaccination for workers