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COVID-19 vaccine mandate of Medicaid facility workers in Iowa stalls

The COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) facilities in 10 states, including Iowa, has paused as of a court decision issued Monday.

U.S. Eastern District of Missouri Judge Matthew T. Schelp ordered a preliminary injunction in the case against the Biden Administration.

“Because it is evident CMS significantly understates the burden that its mandate would impose on the ability of healthcare facilities to provide proper care, and thus, save lives, the public has an interest in maintaining the ‘status quo’ while the merits of the case are determined,” Schelp said in the memorandum and order.

Schelp said factors that prompted the preliminary injunction included lack of Congressional approval granting CMS authority to mandate the vaccine and its bypassing required notice and comment periods. It also did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that other facilities beyond long-term care facilities needed to be subject to the mandate and to explain why the COVID-19 vaccine was required while other vaccines are not.

“For years, CMS has promulgated regulations setting the conditions for Medicare and Medicaid participation; never has it required any vaccine for covered facilities’ employees – despite concerns over other illnesses and their corresponding low vaccination rates,” Schelp said in the ruling.

Gov. Kim Reynolds praised the ruling in a news release Monday.

“Medical providers that have been on the frontlines of this pandemic saving lives deserve the freedom and ability to make their own informed health care decisions,” she said.

She reiterated her support for all Iowans to choose to receive the vaccine.

“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make health care decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms. President Biden should do the same.”

Iowa has five state-run health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding: the Iowa Veterans Home, the Cherokee and Independence Mental Health Institutes, and the Glenwood and Woodward Resource Centers.

The ruling only applies to the 10 states that were plaintiffs in the lawsuit: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt led the coalition.

This article was originally posted on COVID-19 vaccine mandate of Medicaid facility workers in Iowa stalls

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