Attorney General Morrisey, 12 states victorious in stopping additional vaccine mandates

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and a coalition of 11 other states succeeded in stopping additional vaccine mandates proposed by the Biden Administration earlier this month.

The 12-state coalition had filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration in opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers and an accompanying request for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The court granted a nationwide preliminary injunction Tuesday evening, excepting certain states covered by an earlier injunction.

“We are pleased that the court made a sensible decision and sided with individual freedoms for health care workers,” Attorney General Morrisey said, “our group has successfully stopped this mandate from taking effect for the time being, and we believe the mandate will be struck down permanently moving forward. Such mandates threaten to further burden the health care sector and patient well-being in West Virginia, where a large percentage of nursing home and other long-term care facilities are already facing worker shortages.”

The federal district court agreed that the state coalition was likely to succeed on most of its claims. The coalition has argued that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate on facilities that receive federal funding for treating patients exceeds the agency’s statutory authority and violates the Social Security Act’s prohibition on regulations that control the hiring and firing of health care workers. It also violates multiple federal laws, clauses and doctrines and the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

More gravely, the Biden administration’s mandate threatens the well-being of people who rely on services provided by the federal health care programs and the livelihoods of the people who provide that care. In addition to these serious harms, the district court’s decision recognized that the states would suffer serious harm from having their own laws preempted and their state powers encroached.

The lawsuit notes that the vaccine mandate causes grave danger to vulnerable persons whom Medicare and Medicaid were designed to protect—the poor, sick, and elderly—by forcing the firing of “healthcare heroes” who are essential to providing vital medical services.

According to CMS, the vaccine mandate targets about a quarter of the nation’s health care workers, who have chosen not to get vaccinated.

In addition to West Virginia, attorneys general from Louisiana, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are plaintiffs in the case.