The Supreme Court has blocked the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers, but is allowing the separate rule applying only to health care workers employed at facilities receiving federal funding.
In November 2021, President Joe Biden released two new rules regarding vaccination mandates for employers. One was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that required employers with over 100 employees to mandate vaccines, and one came from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which covered medical workers in federally funded businesses.
It was a 6-3 decision to block the mandate for employers outside the health care field.
“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” the majority opinion stated.
The court upheld the ruling for vaccine mandate for the medical community by a 5-4 decision. Under it, any employee that works for a facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid funds must be fully vaccinated with no testing alternatives. The ruling affects 10.4 million workers and takes effect immediately.
“Both Medicare and Medicaid are administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has general statutory authority to promulgate regulations ‘as may be necessary to the efficient administration of the functions with which [he] is charged.’ One such function — perhaps the most basic, given the Department’s core mission — is to ensure that the health care providers who care for Medicare and Medicaid patients protect their patients’ health and safety,” the majority stated.