A federal judge blocked the federal government on Monday from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers in South Dakota and nine other states.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in the Eastern District of Missouri wrote in his ruling that regulations handed down by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services earlier this month were issued improperly. The agency did not get approval from Congress to mandate vaccinations for health care workers, Schelp wrote, which he argued was necessary given the mandate’s “vast economic and political significance.” The rules were also issued without a standard period for public comment, which Schelp said the agency’s justification for was not suitable.
“Truly, the impact of this mandate reaches far beyond COVID,” Schelp wrote. “CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans. Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism.
Schelp also labeled the mandate “arbitrary and capricious,” arguing that CMS “lacks evidence showing that vaccination status has a direct impact on spreading COVID” in the covered health care facilities; the agency has primarily pointed to data from long-term care facilities in its defense.