As expected, last Monday, the Supreme Court declined to take up a legal challenge to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ vaccine mandate for employees working at healthcare facilities that receive federal funds.
The justices rejected an appeal submitted by the plaintiffs in Missouri v. Biden after a lower court declined to take up their petition.
The vast majority of America’s 10.4 million healthcare workers are subject to the CMS vaccine mandate that includes some medical and religious exemptions.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, which includes ten states, alleged that the mandate has compounded the current staffing shortages at hospitals and is especially devastating to “small, rural, and community-based” facilities.
In January, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for private sector companies with 100 employees or more. But it kept in place the CMS healthcare worker mandate pending litigation in the lower courts.
In a 5-4 decision, the justices determined that the CMS healthcare mandate fell within the executive branch authority granted by Congress to regulate facilities receiving Medicaid and Medicare funds. Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Barrett dissented.
In his dissent, Justice Thomas argued that the Biden administration failed to establish that HHS, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was statutorily empowered to implement a vaccine mandate, since the provisions related to its power to regulate Medicaid and Medicare have to do with the “management” and “administration” of insurance programs and not virus mitigation among healthcare workers.
Justice Alito agreed with Thomas’s dissent, adding that the Federal Government is unlikely to prove that Congress authorized HHS to compel over 10 million healthcare workers “to be vaccinated on pain of being fired.”
Alito also pointed out that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rushed the vaccine mandate and admitted that it did not comply with the standard public comment period before it placed such “binding rules on millions of people.”