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Sununu praises federal court ruling on vaccine mandate

Gov. Chris Sununu is among those praising a federal judge’s decision to block President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

On Monday, Missouri-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine requirement on health care workers in 10 states, including New Hampshire, that had filed the first legal challenge against the requirement.

“This is a big win for New Hampshire’s health care system,” Sununu said in a statement. “Nursing homes were at risk of closure if the Biden mandate remained in place. This helps maintain the staff New Hampshire needs to care for our loved ones.”

In the ruling, Schelp said the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is not likely to succeed in the case because it has no authority from Congress to impose the vaccine mandate for providers participating in the government health care programs.

“Truly, the impact of this mandate reaches far beyond COVID,” Schelp wrote in the 32 page ruling. “CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing in unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans.”

The new rules mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million workers at about 76,000 health care facilities and home health care providers that get funding from CMS. Under the rules, unvaccinated workers were required to get their first shot by Dec. 6 and a second one by Jan. 4.

New Hampshire was one of several Republican-controlled states – including Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota – that brought the legal challenge.

In a statement, Attorney General John Formella said Schelp’s order means CMS “may not enforce its vaccine mandate against any facility in New Hampshire until further notice.”

“We will continue to participate in this litigation and seek permanent relief, and we will provide further updates to the public as this litigation progresses,” Formella said.

New Hampshire is also one of 11 states that sued to block rules by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), set to go into effect on Jan. 4, that would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all private businesses with 100 or more employees.

Democrats have criticized the Sununu administration for challenging the mandates as the state struggles to increase vaccination rates amid a winter surge of COVID-19 infections.

But a GOP controlled legislative committee recently produced a report saying the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates for private employers, health care workers, and federal contracts will exacerbate New Hampshire’s workforce shortage and supply chain issues.

A federal appeals court ordered a temporary halt on the mandate, which prompted OSHA to suspend enforcement of the vaccine mandate for private businesses while the case plays out in court.

Republican lawmakers have filed more than 30 bills in the upcoming legislative session dealing with vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions, including masking.

A recent poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that Granite Staters were equally divided over Biden’s vaccine mandates.

This article was originally posted on Sununu praises federal court ruling on vaccine mandate

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