Federal appeals court dismisses Florida injunction against healthcare workers’ vaccination mandate

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A divided federal appeals court on Sunday rejected Florida’s request to at least temporarily block a Biden administration rule that would require healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, dismissed a motion by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody for an injunction against the Biden administration’s rule while the court d ‘Atlanta is reviewing the vaccination requirement.

The ruling said the state “has failed to provide the requisite evidence for an injunction pending appeal.” Judges Robin Rosenbaum and Jill Pryor formed the majority, while Judge Barbara Lagoa dissented. The one-page decision said full notices would be published later.

Sunday’s decision, however, did not mean the Biden administration could move forward with the requirement to vaccinate healthcare workers on Monday, as originally planned. That’s because a Louisiana federal judge last week issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s rule.

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Nonetheless, attorneys at Moody’s office have asked the 11th Circuit to issue an injunction as well because the Biden administration appealed the Louisiana decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This appeal remained pending Sunday afternoon, according to an online court file.

“If the national injunction (in the case of Louisiana) was maintained or reduced, Florida and its citizens would be unprotected as of Dec. 6,” Moody’s office said in a filing last week.

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Sunday’s decision came after Pensacola-based U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers last month dismissed Florida’s petition for a preliminary injunction against the rule. Moody quickly appealed and requested an injunction as the appeal progresses.

The federal rule would apply to hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. The rule, released in early November, required healthcare workers to receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by December 6 and be fully immunized by January 4, with limited exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

In a document filed with the appeals court, Moody’s office said “the warrant is repeatedly illegal.”

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the federal program agency) have taken the unprecedented step of requiring the immunizations of millions of frontline health workers,” the document said. “The measure risks exacerbating an already acute shortage of healthcare workers and harming the highly vulnerable populations Medicare and Medicaid are helping, while claiming to nullify Florida’s sovereign prerogative to ban forced COVID-19 vaccination. ”

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But Rodgers rejected the state’s arguments in a Nov. 20 decision and in a supplemental order on Wednesday.

Rodgers, who was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush, wrote in his order on Wednesday that the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services has broad regulatory authority over Medicare and Medicaid programs. . The department includes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

She also wrote that a “balance of actions” favored the denial of the injunction request.

“In this case, the safety of patients and of the Medicare and Medicaid staff administering the program throughout this pandemic, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and the need to slow the spread of the virus, is greatly improved by due to COVID. -19 vaccine, according to (at) medical science and public health, “Rodgers wrote. “This interest in public safety is particularly compelling in the context of healthcare facilities, which are responsible for protecting vulnerable patients participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs, and therefore weighs heavily on the denial of an injunction.”

Rosenbaum and Pryor were appointed to the appeals court by former President Barack Obama. Lagoa was appointed by former President Donald Trump after being appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to the Florida Supreme Court.

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