House Bill 1597 will arrive on the House floor Tuesday with a 21-0 committee recommendation that it pass. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – Enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions of health care workers was blocked in 10 states on Monday, after a ruling by a federal judge in Missouri.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp affects the states involved in the lawsuit, which includes New Hampshire.
The others are Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Alaska.
At issue is President Joe Biden’s campaign to ensure that workers throughout the country are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Many private sector employees will be required to get vaccinated or undergo weekly tests, while some 17 million health care providers at facilities participating in the federal Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs must be vaccinated – with no option to choose weekly testing instead.
Under the requirement, health care workers were to be vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.
In his 32-page opinion granting a preliminary injunction while the lawsuit proceeds, Schelp wrote that the state attorneys general challenging the mandate appear likely to succeed in their argument that federal health officials lack the authority to implement the requirement.
He also agreed with claims from the plaintiffs that health care facilities will suffer staffing shortages due to the requirement.
“The public has an interest in stopping the spread of COVID. No one disputes that,” Schelp, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2019, wrote in the 32-page opinion. “But the court concludes that the public would suffer little, if any, harm from maintaining the ‘status quo’ through the litigation of this case.”
In a statement after the ruling, Gov. Chris Sununu said: “This is a big win for New Hampshire’s health care system. Nursing homes were at risk of closure if the Biden mandate remained in place. This helps maintain the staff New Hampshire needs to care for our loved ones.”
Several other lawsuits from states are pending in federal courts, challenging both the mandate on health care workers and the broader mandate on most private sector employees.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the administration is “obviously going to abide by the law and fight any efforts in courts or otherwise” to prevent health care facilities from protecting their work forces.
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