Posted on January 14, 2022 in: Professional Practice
The Supreme Court on Thursday stopped the Biden administration’s vaccination-or-testing requirement for the nation’s largest employers, a dramatic blow to the federal government’s most far-reaching initiative to combat the coronavirus and boost the country’s lagging vaccination rate.
But the court allowed a different and smaller policy to go forward, requiring vaccinations for most health-care workers at the facilities that receive Medicaid and Medicare funds.
The court has been supportive of state requirements targeting the pandemic but skeptical of broad federal responses. All six of the court’s conservatives said Congress had not given the Occupational Safety and Health Administration power to impose such a sweeping requirement in workplaces across the nation.
But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh joined the court’s three liberals to say the secretary of health and human services did have the ability to require vaccination of health-care workers at facilities receiving federal funds.
The court’s orders, issued after an emergency hearing Friday, might seem like a split decision. But the OSHA vaccine-or-test requirement would have applied to 84 million people. The requirement for health-care workers covers about 10 million.
Approximately 63 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, according to estimates. The Biden administration had hoped the OSHA requirements would compel upward of an additional 20 million to get the shots and estimated there were more than 2 million holdouts among the health-care workers, distributed unevenly across the country.
President Biden accentuated the news regarding health-care workers and said he was disappointed the court ruled against the administration on the workplace rules.