Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana and eleven other states filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), questioning their authority to issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. The mandate requires all healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.
The group of states filed their complaint on Tuesday alleging that this mandate, as a form of federal regulation, violates several statutes as well as the US Constitution.
Per the mandate, each entity receiving federal funding must securely document the vaccination of all staff, including booster shots, or forfeit its federal funding. The Biden administration has attempted to implement two similar vaccine mandates under different authorities:
- Using a workplace safety statute to impose the mandate on 100 million workers (challenged and stayed).
- Using the federal procurement system to impose the mandate on one-fifth of the US workforce (challenged and unresolved).
The vaccine mandate that Landry and other attorneys general challenge uses the Medicare and Medicaid system to require the vaccination of 17 million healthcare workers. The purpose of Medicare and Medicaid is to assist states in financing healthcare services for the needy through federal funding. But the states challenging the mandate argue that such funding will disappear if states fail to comply.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has responsibility for overseeing these programs and promulgating rules to further the functions of the program. CMS acknowledged that this mandate requiring vaccination is the first of its type. CMS argues, however, that the mandate is grounded in statutory authority and that it is absolutely necessary to the furtherance of healthcare availability.
President Biden commented prior to the mandate: “Let me be blunt. My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining . . . these lifesaving actions. . . . [I]f these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way.”
President Biden assured that his plan “ha[s] the federal authority” and that the mandate will stand in covering healthcare workers in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities.