A federal judge blocked the federal government on Monday from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers in South Dakota and nine other states.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in the Eastern District of Missouri wrote in his ruling that regulations handed down by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services earlier this month were issued improperly.
The Judge wrote in his ruling that they did not get approval from Congress to make the ruling of such “vast economic and political significance.” The Judge also ruled there was no standard period for public comment.
“Truly, the impact of this mandate reaches far beyond COVID,” Schelp wrote. “CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans. Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism.”
He called the mandate “arbitrary and capricious,” arguing that CMS “lacks evidence showing that vaccination status has a direct impact on spreading COVID” in the covered health care facilities; the agency has primarily pointed to data from long-term care facilities in its defense.
“No one questions that protecting patients and health care workers from contracting COVID is a laudable objective,” he wrote. “But the court cannot, in good faith, allow CMS to enact an unprecedented mandate that lacks a ‘rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.'”
Independent health care providers can still require workers to get vaccinated.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running for the Senate, led the lawsuit, alongside Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.
Schmitt said rural hospitals “were facing near-certain collapse due to this mandate.”