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Vaccine Requirement for Health Care Workers Blocked

Friday, December 17, 2021
Vaccine Requirement for Health Care Workers Blocked

A federal court issued a temporary injunction on Nov. 29, 2021, stopping enforcement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) emergency rule requiring COVID-19 vaccination of certain health care workers. 

This injunction only applies in the 10 states involved in the lawsuit—Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. On Nov. 30, 2021, another federal court issued a similar injunction covering the remaining states. However, a federal appeals court issued a stay on the injunction for the 26 states not involved in either lawsuit. The 14 states that brought this lawsuit are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

Nevertheless, on Dec. 2, 2021, CMS indicated that it will not enforce the emergency rule while the injunctions prohibit enforcement.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

The CMS rule applies to Medicare- and Medicaid-certified provider and supplier types that are regulated under the Medicare health and safety standards, including hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities. The rule requires covered facilities to establish a policy ensuring that all eligible staff has received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to providing any care, treatment or other services by Dec. 6, 2021. Under the rule, all eligible staff must have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated—either two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson—by Jan. 4, 2022.

The regulation provides for exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs. However, there is no weekly testing exception for unvaccinated workers.

Impact on Employers

It is possible that CMS may resume enforcement of the vaccination emergency rule in the 26 states not involved in either lawsuit.

Important Dates 

Nov. 29 and 30, 2021

Federal courts blocked enforcement of rule requiring COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers.

Dec. 6, 2021

Emergency rule’s deadline for health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to establish a policy requiring staff to be COVID-19 vaccinated.

Jan. 4, 2022

Emergency rule’s deadline for eligible health care staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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