by Jon Styf
Sixteen states again are challenging a federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers who work at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Friday’s filing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana comes after the issuance of final guidance on the mandate from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), arguing the guidance is an action that is reviewable.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled by 5-4 vote Jan. 13 against the original Louisiana challenge to the mandate and a similar Missouri filing.
The first Louisiana filing initially led to a nationwide injunction in late November. A federal court dismissed a similar Texas lawsuit following the Supreme Court ruling.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said that he believes in the renewed lawsuit. Tennessee joined Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia in the new filing.
“We are renewing a challenge to the CMS vaccine mandate in court so Tennessee health care workers have the right to private health care decisions,” Lee said. “While this mandate represents the worst of federal overreach, it also threatens our ability to staff facilities and provide care for the elderly, disabled and other high-priority populations.”
CMS’ rule states workers in states not involved in the lawsuits had until Feb. 28 to get vaccinated and those involved in the ruling had until March 15 to receive shots. Those in Texas have until March 21 to be fully vaccinated.
The 16 states in the new case argue the COVID-19 omicron variant has caused health care staffing issues that will be multiplied by a vaccination mandate.
“The CMS vaccination rule remains a misguided, one-size-fits-all, job-killing directive that does not account for any change in circumstances – including how the vaccines do not stop the transmission of the Omicron variant,” Lousiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement. “What’s more: the federal government has now made clear that it expects the states to implement this flawed policy with state employees. So I will continue fighting this ill-advised invasion of individual autonomy and my state’s rights.”
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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter for The Center Square who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.