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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri (AP) – A federal judge on Monday prevented President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for thousands of health workers in 10 states who filed the first legal challenge against the request.
The court order said the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid did not have clear powers of Congress to issue the vaccine mandate for providers participating in the two state health programs for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.
US District Judge Matthew Schelp’s injunction applies to a coalition of plaintiff states that includes Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Similar lawsuits are pending in other states.
The federal rule requires COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million workers across the country in approximately 76,000 healthcare facilities and home care providers funded by state health programs. Workers are expected to receive their first dose by December 6th and their second dose by January 4th
The court ruling on the health care vaccine mandate comes after the Biden government suffered a similar setback for broader policies. A federal court previously put a separate rule on hold obliging companies with more than 100 employees to ensure that their employees are vaccinated or wear masks and get tested for the coronavirus on a weekly basis.
Biden’s government claims that federal regulations are replacing state guidelines that ban vaccine mandates and are essential in slowing the pandemic.
But the judge in the health care provider’s case wrote that federal officials have likely exceeded their legal powers.
“CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented requirement to dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans at the federal level. Such measures call into question traditional notions of federalism, ”wrote Schelp in his order.
Even under an extremely broad interpretation of federal powers, “the Congress did not unequivocally authorize CMS to issue this politically and economically extensive, federalism-changing and cross-border mandate,” Schelp wrote.