Supreme Court Allows the Federal Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers to Proceed

Posted on 01/21/22

The Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at large businesses be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job.​

At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the United States.

The Supreme Court ruling means that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) health care worker COVID-19 vaccination regulation can proceed in the 24 states in which it was on hold due to litigation. CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure issued a statement on the decision, noting that the ruling will enable CMS to fully implement the rule.

AARP has voiced its support for the vaccine mandate for health care workers.​​ AARP submitted comments to CMS strongly supporting the regulation.

​The vaccine mandate that the court will allow to be enforced nationwide covers virtually all health care workers in the country. It applies to health care providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, potentially affecting 76,000 health care facilities as well as home health care providers. The rule has medical and religious exemptions.​​​

​In the health care case, only justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito noted their dissents. “The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it. At the same time, such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have,” the justices wrote in an unsigned opinion, saying the “latter principle governs” in the health care cases.​​

​More than 208 million Americans — 62.7 percent of the population — are fully vaccinated, and more than a third of those have received booster shots, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All nine justices have gotten booster shots.​​

Regarding nursing home visitation, CMS has developed an infographic on how to safely conduct visits in nursing homes. The infographic is informed by the CMS nursing home visitation guidance.

This story is provided by AARP West Virginia. Visit the AARP West Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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