Court Allows Vaccination Mandate For Health Care Workers To Go Into Effect

The Secretary of Health and Human Services issued a rule in November of 2021 requiring all health care workers be vaccinated or have a valid exemption in order for the health care facility to receive Medicare or Medicaid funding. Certain states sued to block the mandate, and the lower courts enjoined enforcement of the rule pending a determination on the merits. The federal government appealed, and in Biden v. Becerra, a 5-4 Court dissolved the injunctions in a per curiam decision, thus allowing the rules to go into effect. The majority determined that the rule requiring health care workers to be vaccinated “fits neatly within” the authority of the Secretary to issue all rules “the Secretary finds necessary in the interest of the health and safety of individuals who are furnished services.” 42 U.S.C. sec. 1395x(e)(9). The majority also pointed out that health care workers were already required to be vaccinated for other contagious diseases. Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett dissented, arguing that there was no “actual and discernible nexus” between the Secretary’s generalized statutory authority and the rule at hand, arguing also that such mandates fell within a State’s police power instead. A link to the decision is here: