Supreme Court Gives Healthcare Vaccine Mandate the “Go”

Brooke A. Colaizzi

On the same day the Supreme Court halted enforcement of the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard requiring vaccinations or testing for America’s larger workforces, the Court announced that it will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to enforce a vaccine mandate directed at facilities receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid dollars.

The mandate requires vaccination without a testing option, unless an employee has an approved medical or religious exemption to the vaccination.  Although stricter than the OSHA ETS, the Supreme Court found that the mandate fell squarely with the Secretary of HHS’s statutory authority to place restrictions on the receipt of federal funds.  Also, unlike the broad OSHA ETS, the Court found that vaccine mandates are “part of the provision of healthcare” in the United States.

The decision was 5-4.  It overturned the preliminary injunctions issued by two federal courts of appeal after challenges were filed in Missouri and Louisiana.  Although the legality of the mandate will continue through litigation in those states, the Supreme Court’s decision allows enforcement to proceed in the meantime.