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Health & Medicine

Supreme Court Says Government Can Make COVID Requirements

— January 14, 2022

Healthcare worker vaccinate mandate is up in the air.

The U.S. Supreme Court has indicated it is within its rights to issue requirements that healthcare workers accepting Medicare or Medicaid be vaccinated against the coronavirus.  However, the court also seemed to be still considering whether businesses should be allowed to exercise the same right.  There have been many institutions as of late that have begun to require workers to be vaccinated and many workers have quit jobs because of it.  As many as twenty-five states said they were going to challenge the mandate’s legality.

Sean Marotta, a Supreme Court attorney and counsel for the American Hospital Association, said he expects the justices to issue requirements “blocking the business vaccinate-or-test requirement for being too broad and not clearly authorized.”  On the healthcare worker vaccination requirement he said, “It may be close, but I am tentatively predicting there are at least five votes to uphold the mandate in full and maybe six votes to uphold it in large portion.”

Supreme Court Says Government Can Make COVID Requirements
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Jonathan Turley, an attorney at George Washington University Law School, agreed that “the justices may side with the Biden administration on the health worker mandate.”

Chief Justice John Roberts is “expressing skepticism that dealing with an infectious disease in this way is not within the government’s authority,” Turley tweeted, adding that “there is a marked difference in the questions from the conservative justices on the health care mandate as opposed to the workplace rule.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that its anti-discrimination requirements “don’t prohibit employers from requiring all employees who physically enter the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19.  Employers that encourage or require vaccinations, however, must consider reasonable accommodations when employees refuse to get vaccinated for medical reasons, including pregnancy-related reasons, or based on sincerely held religious beliefs, unless an accommodation would cause undue hardship for the business.”

The healthcare worker mandate is currently on hold in 25 states.  In other states, including Washington, DC, and US territories, workers “must have their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by January 27 and the second by February 28, unless they have a religious or medical exemption,” according to Marotta.  The workplace rule will begin to be reinforced starting February 9th.

The Biden-Harris Administration began requiring COVID-19 vaccination of eligible staff at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs in November of last year.  The emergency regulation was issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The requirement applies to all of the following: “Ambulatory Surgical Centers, Hospices, Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, Hospitals, Long Term Care facilities, Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities, Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Home Health Agencies, Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facilities, Critical Access Hospitals, Clinics (rehabilitation agencies, and public health agencies as providers of outpatient physical therapy and speech-language pathology services), Community Mental Health Centers, Home Infusion Therapy suppliers, Rural Health Clinics/Federally Qualified Health Centers, and End-Stage Renal Disease Facilities.”

“Ensuring patient safety and protection from COVID-19 has been the focus of our efforts in combatting the pandemic and the constantly evolving challenges we’re seeing,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “[This] action addresses the risk of unvaccinated health care staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation’s health care system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them.”

The government said it has the legal authority to require vaccination because it is necessary to protect the “health and safety of patients.”


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