Latest Vaccine Mandate News
January 20, 2022
For 24 States, Healthcare Workers Must Be Fully Vaccinated by March 15
One day after the January 13th Supreme Court ruling allowing for vaccine mandates for healthcare workers, CMS issued updated guidance for the 24 states that challenged the original CMS rule. Federally funded healthcare facilities in these 24 states must have a policy in place requiring healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by March 15, 2022, with religious or medical exemptions permitted.
The affected states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.
Texas is still under a preliminary injunction so surveyors will not be enforcing the rule until CMS issues further guidance for that state.
The original compliance deadline of February 28th to have healthcare staff fully vaccinated is still in effect for the 25 states that did not challenge the CMS mandate.
January 12, 2022
Supreme Court Allows Healthcare Worker Vaccine Rule; Strikes Down OSHA Mandate
On Thursday, January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court ruled the Biden administration has the authority to issue a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funding.
The Court said the rule “fits neatly within” the authority Congress has granted to Health and Human Services (HHS) to put conditions on federal funds.
Originally, the HHS rule required healthcare workers to have at least one shot by Dec. 6, 2021, and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, allowing accommodations for medical or religious exemptions.
More recently, HMS pushed back the date for compliance. Healthcare workers at affected facilities are required to have their first shot by Jan. 27, 2022. Staff must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 28, 2022. An estimated 10.3 million healthcare workers are affected by the rule.
The Court blocked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Emergency Temporary Standard that required all employers with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing. Regarding the rest of the public, President Biden said in a statement it was “now up to states and private employers to determine whether to institute such requirements”.
The OSHA vaccine-or-test mandate went into effect on January 10th, just three days before the Court’s ruling. The Court said, “although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly.”
So what’s the takeaway? Healthcare facilities that receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid must require workers to get their first shot by January 27th, and be fully vaccinated by February 28th.
January 12, 2022
OSHA Vaccine Mandate Still in Limbo
On Friday, January 7, 2022 the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments on the OSHA rule requiring vaccinations or testing for businesses with 100 or more employees.
The Court will issue a ruling, likely sometime in February 2022, but there is no decision for now.
What should businesses do? Make sure you’re in compliance with your state and local requirements, at a minimum. For more guidance on how to proceed in this uncertain regulatory environment, check out our recent webinar on the ETS mandate and how to protect your business.
December 21, 2021
On Friday December 17, 2021, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati has reinstated the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which is the rule requiring vaccines or COVID-19 testing for large businesses.
Previously a different Court of Appeals stayed the order, so many businesses have been in limbo, putting their plans for vaccine requirements on hold.
Because of this period of uncertainty, OSHA says that it will not issue citations for non-compliance with any requirements of the rule before Jan. 10, and it will not issue citations for noncompliance with the rule’s testing requirements before Feb. 9, “so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.”
OSHA surveys are coming, and fast!
What should you do?
OSHA is asking employers to start getting into compliance. For businesses with over 100 employees, OSHA requires a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless the business adopts a policy requiring employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing and wear a face covering at work.
Decide on, write, and distribute your policy to employees as soon as possible.
With the Biden administration adding more OSHA agents to the budget, businesses are under more scrutiny to be compliant, and it’s expensive if you’re fined. Fines could be $13,653 per violation. Willful or repeated failure to comply could cost businesses up to $136,532 per violation.
In short, businesses have a little time, but you should start taking action to get into compliance to avoid any fines.
You should also know your state’s rules surrounding vaccination requirements for businesses. Some state or locality requirements are stricter than the OSHA rule, like New York City, which doesn’t allow employees to opt to test instead of getting the vaccine.
Must employers require a booster?
As of now, no. On Sunday the Labor Department said that its rule did not currently include booster shots, though it strongly encourages them.
Complicating matters, the CDC could separately change its definition of “fully vaccinated” to include a booster. We’ll let you know if the CDC definition changes or the OSHA rule becomes more expansive.
What if my business can’t meet the rule’s testing requirements?
It’s understandable if your business is struggling to meet the testing requirements because there’s currently a shortage of tests. On Sunday the Labor Department said that it would “consider refraining from enforcement” if the employer has shown a good-faith effort to comply.
So businesses should do their best to comply with the rule and document all their efforts.
Could there be any other changes?
Yes, there’s the possibility for more changes.
Why? The matter will likely go to the Supreme Court, which could reverse the 6th Circuit decision. We’ll keep you updated on any changes as soon as they happen.
How can businesses stay informed?
We know all of these changes are complicated. But staying on top of these developments doesn’t have to take away from your resources or your core mission.
As your compliance partner, we’ll keep you updated on what you need to do to stay in compliance and avoid citations and fines.
You can call our team to get more information on how MedTrainer can help.
We’ll keep you updated as the situation evolves.