By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A federal judge has ordered a halt to the enforcement and implementation of a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers in Wyoming and other states.
Gov. Mark Gordon welcomed the issuing of a temporary injunction issued in a lawsuit filed by Wyoming and nine other states against the mandate issued by President Joe Biden.
“This is welcome news for Wyoming’s rural health care facilities, which are already facing staffing challenges without additional unconstitutional burdens being placed on their employees by the federal government,” Gordon said. “Health care employees should not be forced to choose between vaccination and termination.”
Biden earlier this year announced his plan to require vaccinations for federal employees, health care workers and workers at companies that employ more than 100.
Under the proposal, a vaccine was required prior to Dec. 6 for every employee, volunteer and contractor working at a wide range of health care facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicare funding. Health care facilities not complying could lose Medicaid or Medicare funding, under rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In its ruling, the federal court in Missouri agreed to temporarily halt implementation and enforcement of the rule because arguments made by Wyoming and the other states have a likelihood of success on the merits.
Wyoming and the coalition have argued that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not have authority to issue the mandate and that the vaccine requirement would impact the ability of health care facilities to effectively care for patients.
“Because it is evident CMS significantly understates the burden that its mandate would impose on the ability of healthcare facilities to provide proper care, and thus, save lives, the public has an interest in maintaining the ‘status quo’ while the merits of the case are determined,” wrote the court.
The ruling applies only to the 10 states that joined in the lawsuit: Wyoming, Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.
Wyoming has gone to court to challenge all three pieces of the mandate. The other two legal challenges involve:
- Filing a lawsuit against the Biden Administration for imposing a vaccine mandate on federal contractors and federally contracted employees. Wyoming is currently awaiting a ruling on a request for a temporary injunction in the case.
- Filing a second lawsuit to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration emergency temporary standard which mandates vaccines on employees of private Wyoming businesses with over 100 employees. This also resulted in a pause on the implementation of the ETS.
A three-judge panel for the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 12 that plaintiffs behind lawsuits filed against the federal government over the mandate would probably be successful in their claims that the Biden administration had overreached its authority with the mandate.
Earlier this month, Gordon signed HB1002, which prohibits state and local public entities from enforcing a federal mandate. However, it would not take effect until a federal court, in response to legal action, blocks the mandate.