SCOTUS Strikes Down One Vax Mandate, Upholds Another

Both the OSHA standard and the CMS guidelines have been in legal limbo since last year

Last week, the Supreme Court blocked enforcement of President Biden’s requirement that individuals at U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees get vaccinated against COVID or submit to weekly testing.

The decision to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency standard split the court along the usual (6-3) ideological lines. In the majority opinion, the Court’s conservative members wrote that “administrative agencies are creatures of statute, and accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided.”

At the same time, however, the justices agreed to allow the health care worker vax rule to proceed, arguing that…“it fits neatly within the language of the statute; ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangerous virus to their patients is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medical profession: first, do no harm.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule – now enforceable in all 50 states –  is expected to cover more than 17 million employees at approximately 76,000 health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. All individuals working in covered facilities must have their first vaccine dose by late January / early February, and their second vaccine dose by late February / early March.

Those that paused or slowed compliance efforts during the temporary stay will now need to re-evaluate their plans and quickly move towards compliance. This activity must occur in an extremely short timeline unless further extended by CMS.

Note: The federal contractor vaccine mandate remains subject to multiple legal challenges. Therefore, the government is currently blocked from enforcing this policy nationwide.

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