Capitol Correspondence - 01.14.22

Supreme Court Blocks OSHA Vaccine Rule, Allows Administration to Enforce CMS Vaccine Rule

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On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions regarding the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. In a 6-3 decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, the Court granted a stay against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard, effectively blocking the rule from taking effect while litigation over the rule continues in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In its decision, the Court found that OSHA exceeded its authority to promulgate a broad vaccine-or-test rule and determined that the challenges to OSHA’s rule in the lower court would likely succeed on their merits.

On the same day, in a 5-4 decision in Biden v. Missouri, the Supreme Court granted the administration’s request to enforce the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Rule. In contrast to its opinion on the OSHA rule, in this case the Court found that CMS had the authority to implement a policy to protect the health and safety of healthcare workers who care for patients in certain Medicare- and Medicaid-funded facilities. The Court’s opinion allows the CMS rule to go into effect while challenges to the rule continue in the lower appeals courts.

Hours after the ruling, CMS released a statement to clarify the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the CMS rule. CMS announced that the 24 states formerly covered by the preliminary injunction must now establish policies to comply with the rule and that compliance timelines remain consistent for providers in DC, the territories, and the other 25 states where the preliminary injunction was previously lifted.  

The White House also released a statement expressing disappointment over the Court’s blocking of the OSHA rule. U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh similarly issued a statement urging employers to independently require workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly stating OSHA will do everything in its existing authority to hold businesses accountable for protecting workers.

Many ANCOR members would have been covered by the OSHA rule, and providers of services in Intermediate Care Facilities are covered by the CMS rule. ANCOR will provide updates as the litigation challenging the OSHA and CMS vaccine rules continue in the lower courts.