Supreme Court holds special hearing on January 7 on mandate of vaccines for health care workers

The Supreme Court is accelerating two court cases challenging President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including a requirement for certain healthcare workers.

The High Court announced on Wednesday it would hold a special hearing on January 7 to hear oral arguments on federal vaccine mandates that are at the heart of the Biden administration’s efforts to combat COVID in the workplace. .

The Supreme Court’s decision comes as the omicron variant is causing an increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide.

In an unusual move, the court said it would act with exceptional speed on both measures, a vaccine or testing mandate for large employers and a vaccination requirement for some healthcare workers, the New York Times. The judges had not been scheduled to return to the bench until the following Monday.

The high court will hear arguments over a rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that applies to employers with 100 or more workers and requires all staff to be vaccinated or tested for the virus weekly. The rule could affect more than 84 million workers.

The second is a rule released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in November that requires hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities to ensure staff are fully immunized. by Jan. 4 or risk losing Medicare and Medicaid funding. .

RELATED: Biden asks Supreme Court to back health workers’ vaccination mandate after legal challenges

The CMS rule has been challenged by a number of states. A lower court overturned the 10-state mandate and a split panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the government’s motion to stay the ruling until an appeal can be heard.

Last week, a federal appeals court in 26 states reinstated the administration’s vaccination mandate for health workers in hospitals that receive federal funding. As it stands, the vaccine requirement for Medicare and Medicaid providers is blocked by the courts in about half of US states, but not the other half, creating patchy enforcement potential. Across the country.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) also released a legal filing last week that seeks to overturn a federal court ruling late last month that blocked the warrant in 10 states.

Now the Supreme Court will have the final say on emergency requests to suspend Missouri and Louisiana district court injunctions judicially barring the CMS mandate in 25 states and emergency requests to suspend the mandate again. from OSHA.

In a blog post, the American Hospital Association (AHA) said “it is unheard of for the full court to hear oral argument directly on an emergency request like this.”

“The court order demonstrates the legal and practical significance of the federal government’s vaccine mandates and whether they should be suspended pending appellate review,” the AHA wrote.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the Biden administration pledged to “strongly defend” the vaccine mandate initiatives.

“Especially as the United States faces the highly transmissible variant of omicron, it is essential to protect workers with vaccination requirements and testing protocols that are urgently needed. At a critical time for the nation’s health, OSHA’s vaccination or testing rule ensures that employers protect their employees and the CMS healthcare vaccination requirement ensures that providers protect their patients,” said Jen Psaki, associate. White House press release, in a statement.

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