- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2021

A coalition of a dozen states led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed suit against the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees, volunteers and contractors who work at health care facilities that receive federal funding.

Along with a lawsuit announced Monday by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Mr. Landry’s suit brings to 22 the number of Republican-led states that have taken the Biden administrations to court over the order impacting all facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.

“It is astonishingly irresponsible,” Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill said of the federal mandate. “It means that across the board what you will get is a lack of access to care for the poor, elderly and children. This completely contradicts the whole program.”

The lawsuits allege the vaccine mandate will not only jeopardize funding for critical health care facilities but also create a shortage of trained and qualified health care professionals.

In Louisiana, where nearly a quarter of the state’s population is on Medicare and Medicaid, the annual funding amounts to more than $16 billion, Ms. Murrill said.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published an emergency regulation requiring staff vaccinations for COVID-19 across a variety of Medicare and Medicaid-certified health care providers. The requirements apply to approximately 76,000 providers and cover over 17 million health care workers across the country.

“While CMS cannot comment on pending litigation, the vaccine requirement for health care workers addresses the risk of unvaccinated health care staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation’s health care system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them,” a CMS spokesperson said Tuesday.

“Health care workers have a special ethical and professional duty to protect their patients,” the spokesperson said. “There is no question that staff in any health care setting who remain unvaccinated pose both direct and indirect threats to patient safety and population health.”

The first lawsuit against the CMS vaccine mandate was filed Nov. 10 in U.S. District Court in Missouri. That suit is led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and has been joined by Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Wyoming and the Dakotas.

In the suit filed Monday night in federal court in Louisiana, Mr. Landry was joined by Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

“Biden’s bureaucrats at CMS are threatening the jobs of millions of our healthcare heroes who risked their lives last year caring for our neighbors with COVID-19,” Mr. Landry said in a statement. “What’s more: the mandate once again gives more rights and protections to illegal aliens than American citizens.”

The CMS lawsuits are the latest in a series of legal actions taken against the Biden administration’s sweeping vaccine mandates, coming after suits against mandates for private companies and another against the mandate from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The former’s venue was to be decided by a ping-pong ball lottery Tuesday.

The Louisiana lawsuit employs language used by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that has sided with plaintiffs thus far in a lawsuit brought against the Biden administration’s order that private businesses with more than 100 workers mandate vaccinations for workers, Ms. Murrill said.

In particular, the lawsuit lifts the phrase that the requirement amounts to “a jab for a job,” a step the conservative attorneys general allege is a breathtaking overreach of federal authority.

“Once again the federal government has come in with a sledgehammer,” Ms. Murrill told The Washington Times. “It’s unfair and it destroys informed consent.”

Already many health care facilities are facing a shortage of qualified workers, and Ms. Murrill said the administration is deluding itself with a notion the jobs will all be quickly backfilled should a vaccine requirement make the facilities further shorthanded.

“This is going to make it worse,” she said. “The administration has adopted the fiction these jobs will magically be filled by someone else. They won’t.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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