SALT LAKE CITY – In a new lawsuit focusing on the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and 11 other state attorneys general asked a federal court to stop the Biden administration’s overreaching “job or jab” COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As with the policy for Federal Contractor Employees and Employers of 100 people or more, the mandate threatens to further burden the health care sector and patient well-being in Utah, where a large percentage of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are already facing worker shortages.
The 12-state coalition filed the lawsuit and request for a preliminary injunction today in the U.S. District Court for Western District of Louisiana.
“We are fighting to ensure Utahn’s don’t lose access to healthcare, especially in rural areas, where the workforce is already stretched thin,” said Attorney General Reyes. “The Biden Administration continues its unwise and unconstitutional attempt to sail the COVID-19 pandemic into uncharted areas of the law and trampling individual rights. Not only is this action illegal, but it would force a significant number of healthcare workers to take the vaccine or exit the Medicare and Medicaid workforce.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 vaccine mandate on facilities that receive federal funding for treating patients exceeds the agency’s statutory authority and violates the Social Security Act’s prohibition on regulations that control the hiring and firing of healthcare workers. It also violates multiple federal laws, clauses, and doctrines and the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
More gravely, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mandate threatens the well-being of people who rely on services provided by the federal healthcare programs and the livelihoods of those who provide that care.
“The Vaccine Mandate causes grave danger to vulnerable persons whom Medicare and Medicaid were designed to protect – the poor, sick, and elderly – by forcing the termination of millions of ‘healthcare heroes’ who are essential to providing healthcare services,” the complaint reads.
According to CMS, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate targets about a quarter of the nation’s health care workers who have not chosen to get vaccinated. The Biden administration’s core “objective is to coerce the unvaccinated workforce into submission or cause them to lose their livelihoods.” Without the injunction sought by General Brnovich, the result will be health care workers losing their jobs and America’s most vulnerable populations losing access to necessary medical care.
This will hit the healthcare system in rural Utah particularly hard. More than 45% of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Utah are suffering from staff shortages, according to the AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. More than 25% have chosen to remain unvaccinated, meaning the Biden mandate could make the healthcare workforce shortage much worse.
“The Vaccine Mandate threatens to exacerbate already devastating shortages in healthcare staffing by forcing small rural hospitals to terminate their unvaccinated workers,” the complaint states. “If unvaccinated quit or are fired, that will compel those hospitals to close certain divisions, cancel certain services, or shutter altogether. Those dire consequences stretch across rural America.”
The Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate violates the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by seeking “to commandeer state-employee surveyors to become enforcers of CMS’s unlawful attempt to federalize national vaccine policy and override the States’ police power on matters of health and safety.”
Read the complaint here.
Read the Motion for Preliminary Injunction here.