Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare
Within the past half-hour, numerous news agencies have reported on this afternoon’s decisions by the Supreme Court regarding OSHA’s ETS and CMS’ Omnibus Healthcare Staff Vaccination IFR. I’m including links to Reuter’s reporting in today’s blog as well as pointing readers to view the Supreme Court’s decisions. As of this writing, there has been no public statements from the Department of Labor, OSHA, the Biden Administration nor CMS on these decisions. Watch this BNN Blog for more information tomorrow from these entities.
Use the link above (beneath decisions) to review the yet-unsigned Supreme Court decisions:
“The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden’s pandemic-related vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses at a time of escalating COVID-19 infections while allowing his administration to enforce its separate vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities.
The court acted after hearing arguments last Friday in the legal fight over temporary mandates issued in November by two federal agencies aimed at increasing U.S. vaccination rates and making workplaces and healthcare settings safer. The cases tested presidential powers to address a swelling public health crisis that already has killed more than 845,000 Americans.
The court was divided in both cases. It ruled 6-3 with the six conservative justices in the majority and three liberal justices dissenting in blocking the broader workplace ruling. The vote was 5-4 to allow the healthcare worker rule, with two conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joining the liberals in the majority.
The federal workplace safety agency issued a rule affecting businesses with at least 100 workers requiring vaccines or weekly COVID-19 tests – a policy applying to more than 80 million employees. Challengers led by the state of Ohio and a business group asked the justices to block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule after a lower court lifted an injunction against it. Companies were supposed to start showing they were in compliance starting this past Monday.
The other mandate required vaccination for an estimated 10.3 million workers at about 76,000 healthcare facilities including hospitals and nursing homes that accept money from the Medicare and Medicaid government health insurance programs for elderly, disabled and low-income Americans.
In the healthcare facilities case, the court’s differently comprised majority concluded that the regulation “fits neatly” within the power Congress conferred on the government to impose conditions on Medicaid and Medicare funds, which includes policies that protect health and safety.
“After all, 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 court said.
The justices lifted orders by federal judges in Missouri and Louisiana blocking the policy in 24 states, allowing the administration to enforce it nearly nationwide. Enforcement was blocked in Texas by a lower court in separate litigation not at issue in the case before the Supreme Court.
Workers must be vaccinated by the end of February under the mandate.
The White House has said the two mandates will save lives and strengthen the U.S. economy by increasing the number of vaccinated Americans by the millions. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the justices that the pandemic poses a particularly acute workplace danger, with employees getting sick and dying every day because of their exposure to the coronavirus on the job, with outbreaks across all industries.
The challengers argued that the two federal agencies overstepped their authority in issuing the mandates without specific authorization by Congress.
The Supreme Court’s consideration of the challenges to the mandates underscored how divisive the issue of vaccination has become in the United States, as in many nations. Many Republicans have been critical of vaccine mandates imposed by governments and businesses.
The United States leads the world in COVID-19 deaths and infections.”
(The above citations/excerpts are from the Reuter’s initial reporting – hyperlink found in the first paragraph.)