Florida continues to fight for mandate to vaccinate healthcare workers

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Highlighting the “remarkable importance” of the case, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Thursday asked a full federal appeals court to at least temporarily block a Biden administration rule that would require workers in the health are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The request came after Florida suffered blows in its fight against the vaccination mandate. Pensacola-based U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers last month dismissed the state’s request for a preliminary injunction against the rule, and a panel of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals also declined to l ‘Stop.

Lawyers for Moody’s office on Thursday filed a 28-page motion asking the Atlanta appeals court to issue an injunction that at least put the rule on hold while an underlying appeal is decided – a decision known as an “injunction pending appeal.” ”

The petition argued that the rule violated federal laws and would exacerbate staff problems at healthcare facilities, including state-run facilities such as veterans’ retirement homes.

“A vaccination warrant threatens to exacerbate these grim circumstances,” the petition said. “Officials of state-run health facilities expect many health workers to quit rather than get vaccinated. ”

Florida is one of many states that have challenged the vaccination rule, which was released in early November by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

A Louisiana federal district judge issued a national injunction against the rule, but the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said the ruling went too far. The New Orleans court of appeals reduced the injunction to apply only to 14 states that filed the Louisiana case.

With the cancellation of the national injunction, attorneys for the Moody’s office wrote on Thursday that Florida was no longer “protected” against the vaccination rule and that the 11th Circuit should quickly address the issue in what is called a “bench” procedure.

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“Florida health workers now face the immediate prospect of a forced vaccination,” the petition says. “Florida therefore calls for the rapid intervention of the tribunal en banc. ”

The vaccination requirement would apply to workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. The requirement was originally scheduled to go into effect on December 6, but the Biden administration suspended it due to injunctions that had been issued in the Louisiana case and a Missouri case.

In the Florida case, an 11th Circuit panel last week issued a 2-1 notice denying the state’s injunction request on the underlying appeal of Rodgers’ decision. The majority said, in part, that Florida had failed to demonstrate a “substantial likelihood” that it would prevail in the underlying appeal and had failed to demonstrate that it would suffer “irreparable damage” without injunction.

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Additionally, the majority of the panel, consisting of Justices Robin Rosenbaum and Jill Pryor, underscored the rationale for the rule as the nation continues to fight the pandemic. The notice says US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who oversees the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, considered questions such as whether the vaccination requirement would prompt workers health workers to quit their jobs.

“Even though many health workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the secretary has found that vaccination rates remain too low in many health facilities,” the advisory said. “Unvaccinated staff continue to pose a significant threat to patients because the virus that causes COVID-19 is highly transmissible and dangerous. The secretary cited data reflecting that the virus spreads easily among health workers and from health workers to patients and that such spread is more likely when health workers are not vaccinated. ”

But Judge Barbara Lagoa, a former Florida Supreme Court justice, wrote a dissenting opinion claiming, in part, that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services overstepped their authority with the rule.

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“CMS (the agency) has never applied a vaccination mandate before, and CMS cannot indicate a clear legal authorization from Congress for the mandate,” Lagoa wrote. Simply put, nothing in (federal laws) indicates that Congress intended to give CMS sweeping authority to impose a nationwide vaccine mandate – not just on health workers providing the vaccine. direct patient care, but to all facility administrators and employees, interns, students, volunteers and third party contractors who provide care, treatment or other services for the facilities under the mandate.

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