Despite widespread backlash and earlier assurances that the federal government would not institute COVID-19 mandates, President Joe Biden has announced a series of requirements potentially impacting millions of Americans.
One such mandate was aimed at health care workers specifically, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has since confirmed that it will suspend enforcement of that requirement.
According to the Daily Wire, the move came after a pair of court rulings that effectively blocked the mandate from taking effect.
As initially envisioned, the mandate would have applied to all health care workers employed by Medicare or Medicaid certified facilities or those that receive federal funding through either program. It would have required those workers to obtain a first dose of the vaccine no later than Monday and a second shot by Jan. 4.
Those who refused would have faced possible termination and facilities found to be in noncompliance could have had their certification and/or federal funding pulled.
In a memo dated Thursday, however, CMS announced that it “will not enforce the new rule regarding vaccination of health care workers or requirements for policies and procedures in certified Medicare/Medicaid providers and suppliers (including nursing facilities, hospitals, dialysis facilities and all other provider types covered by the rule) while there are court-ordered injunctions in place prohibiting enforcement of this provision.”
The statement went on to acknowledge that federal courts in Louisiana and Missouri issued preliminary injunctions that essentially blocked the vaccine mandate from being implemented. Appeals to those decisions have already been filed.
“Pending future developments”
“While CMS remains confident in its authority to protect the health and safety of patients in facilities certified by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, it has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of this rule pending future developments in the litigation,” the agency added.
As a result, the memo determined that “surveyors must not survey providers for compliance with the requirements of the Interim Final Rule” while the injunctions remain in place.
“Health care facilities, of course, may voluntarily choose to comply with the Interim Final Rule,” the CMS concluded.
Despite the adverse court rulings, the Biden administration apparently still believes that the vaccine mandate will ultimately succeed.
As one unnamed White House official explained: “We are confident in the government’s authority to promote economy and efficiency in federal contracting through its vaccine requirement and the Department of Justice will vigorously defend it in court.”