TOPEKA – (November 29, 2021) – A federal court this morning blocked a second of the Biden administration's federal vaccine mandates, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri today placed a temporary injunction on the mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that required nearly all health care employees, volunteers and third-party contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. Schmidt and nine other state attorneys general filed the lawsuit November 10, arguing that the mandate will threaten numerous already short-staffed nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities with closure. Small rural facilities are at particular risk of closure.
“I continue to encourage Kansans to be vaccinated, but that personal health care decision should be made by each individual and not mandated by any federal government agency,” Schmidt said. “This overreaching, one-size-fits-all mandate would further disrupt and impede the efforts of health care facilities and their employees all across Kansas to provide the care Kansans expect and deserve.”
The injunction covers Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers in Kansas, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The mandate will remain on hold in these states pending further court proceedings.
Today’s injunction is the second Schmidt has obtained blocking a Biden administration vaccine mandate. A different federal court has stayed the so-called OSHA mandate that applied to private employers with more than 100 employees. A third lawsuit filed by Schmidt challenges the mandate for federal contractors and is scheduled for a hearing Friday on the state’s request for a preliminary injunction.
In addition, new state legislation that became effective last week requires all employers, both public or private sector, to accommodate employee requests for relief from COVID-19 vaccine requirements on medical grounds or the ground that the requirement would violate a sincerely held religious belief of the employee and for religious requests forbids employers from “inquiring into the sincerity of the request” by the employee. Schmidt said the new state law is meant to protect workers, not punish employers.
A copy of today’s ruling regarding the CMS mandate is available at https://bit.ly/3I3ycVJ.