A federal judge in St Louis, Missouri has issued an injunction barring the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services from enforcing a requirement that health care workers at facilities which receive federal funds in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The order, which was issued on Monday by District Judge Matthew Schlep, only applies to those states because they are currently suing the Biden administration to block implementation of the CMS rule, which administration officials say is necessary to prevent Covid-19 from spreading rampant in health care facilities.
The lawsuit in question was filed on 10 November by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, who was joined by elected Republican attorneys general from the nine other plaintiff states. The GOP attorneys argued that the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate amounted to “dragooning of our States’ healthcare heroes” that usurped state government’s power to regulate vaccination of citizens.
Although the Covid-19 vaccines were developed during former president Donald Trump’s term, antipathy towards any effort to require that Americans be vaccinated against Covid-19 has become de rigeur among Republicans as a way to demonstrate their opposition to Mr Biden and his administration.
The Department of Justice, which represents CMS and the other federal defendants in the case, has argued that federal laws and regulations giving CMS authority to preempt state policies give CMS the authority to lay out standards that override any state prohibitions against vaccine mandates. Such authority, the government said, is necessary to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
But in his opinion approving a preliminary injunction against the mandate, Judge Schlep — a Trump appointee — wrote that the policy “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,” he added. “Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact the this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate”.
The Independent has contacted the White House for comment.