On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued two long-awaited opinions after hearing arguments on January 7, 2022. The Supreme Court has issued a stay (a legal term used when a Court stops a legal proceeding or actions of a party) of the OSHA Vaccine Mandate and has upheld (a legal term meaning it will not change) the Medical Facility Mandate.
OSHA Mandate: In a decision that is sure to make history, the Supreme Court ruled on January 13, 2022 that the OSHA vaccine mandate would be stayed. The mandate applies to employers with at least 100 employees, and affected nearly 84 million workers. The mandate required workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, or test weekly at their own expense and wear a mask each workday.
The Supreme Court noted that OSHA has never before imposed a mandate of this sort, and Congress has declined to enact any measure similar. The Supreme Court held that "this [is] no 'everyday exercise of federal power.'" Instead, it is a "significant encroachment into the lives - and health - of a vast number of employees." The Court held that "although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most." The Court went on to say that COVID-19 comes with a universal risk and is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face. "[A] vaccine mandate is strikingly unlike the workplace regulations that OSHA has typically imposed. A vaccination, after all, 'cannot be undone at the end of the workday.'" In summary, the Court held that OSHA was not put in place to issue mandates such as this.
The Court addressed OSHA's argument hat the mandate was necessary by stating "it was not [the Court's] role", stating [A]lthough Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly."
Medical Facilities Mandate: The Secretary of Health and Human Services administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs, providing health insurance for millions of Americans. The Secretary issued a mandate stating that medical facilities must ensure staff is vaccinated if they wish to continue to receive funding.
The Supreme Court held that the Secretary has long-established conditions required by medical facilities in order to receive funding, to include vaccination requirements. The Court held that the Secretary's mandate falls within the scope of authority granted to the Secretary. The Court additionally considered the widespread support of the mandate by healthcare workers and public health organizations, citing to several organizations and briefs filed in support of the mandate.
The Court held that "[t]he Secretary did not exceed his ... authority in requiring that, in order to remain eligible for Medicare and Medicaid dollars, the facilities covered by the interim rule must ensure that their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19."
No matter where you fall on vaccines, we hope this information is helpful in keeping you informed.
Keep yourselves informed, and read on here for the decision: www.supremecourt.gov/opinions.