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22 states file petition for CMS to repeal vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

HELENA – A coalition of 22 states, led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, today formally called on the Biden administration to withdraw its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and all related guidance. Even though vaccines have proven largely impotent in preventing COVID transmission, studies have shown increased health risks associated with the vaccines, and the justification for the rushed mandate has disappeared, it remains in force.

The coalition of attorneys general filed a petition today under the Administrative Procedures Act requesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services take immediate action to repeal its Interim Final Rule (IFR) and State Surveyor Guidance, which require participating healthcare facilities to “develop and implement policies and procedures to ensure that all staff are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.” The mandate has violated the rights of healthcare workers and worsened staffing shortages in that sector, especially in rural and frontier states like Montana.

“The Biden administration relied on a purported emergency to sidestep its normal requirements and rush through its flagrantly unconstitutional mandate. But evidence available at that time, and evidence that has emerged since, demonstrates that full vaccination doesn’t prevent infection or transmission. Breakthrough infections are common, and studies increasingly show heightened health risks associated with the vaccines,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “The mandate has limited many patients’ access to needed medical care and imposed substantial costs on patients and healthcare workers without any corresponding benefits. The Biden administration should have never imposed this mandate, and CMS should now throw it in the trash bin where it belongs.”

The IFR regulates over 10 million healthcare workers and suppliers in the United States.  Of those, CMS estimated that 2.4 million were unvaccinated when it issued the IFR.

“CMS’s objective is to coerce the unvaccinated workforce into submission or cause them to lose their livelihoods,” the petition states. “If CMS succeeds in coercing states to enforce the IFR against their own citizens, these healthcare workers will lose their jobs (or not return if they already have), states will lose frontline healthcare workers, providers, suppliers, and services, and America’s most vulnerable populations will lose access to necessary medical care.”

As a result, states will further lose frontline healthcare workers, providers, and suppliers and ultimately, America’s most vulnerable populations will lose access to necessary medical care. CMS itself has already admitted there are “endemic staff shortages for all categories of employees at almost all kinds of healthcare providers and suppliers.”

“As a result of the IFR, significant numbers of their citizens who are healthcare employees have been forced to submit to bodily invasion, navigate exemption processes, or lose their jobs and their livelihoods,” the petition states. “All their citizens will suffer as a result of the predictable and conceded exacerbation of labor shortages in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.”

The vaccine mandate violates the states’ sovereign right to enact and enforce their laws and exercise their police power on matters such as compulsory vaccination and it fundamentally changes the deal under which they agreed to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Additionally, the IFR is arbitrary and capricious, structurally defective, and exceeds CMS’s statutory authority. Constitutionally speaking, it violates the Tenth Amendment; Nondelegation, Major Questions, and Anti-Commandeering doctrines; and the Spending Clause.

Attorneys general from Arizona, Louisiana, and Tennessee helped Attorney General Knudsen lead the effort. Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming also joined.

Click here to read the petition to repeal the vaccine mandate and related guidance.