CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, along with 11 other states, joined a lawsuit against the Biden Administration in opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers, including those working for Medicare and Medicaid certified providers and suppliers.
The 12-state coalition filed the lawsuit and an accompanying request for a preliminary injunction Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
“The mandate threatens 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,” Attorney General Morrisey said.
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.
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. Its core objective is “to coerce the unvaccinated workforce into submission or cause them to lose their livelihoods.” The end result—without the injunction sought by the states—will be health care workers losing their jobs and America’s most vulnerable populations losing access to necessary medical care.
This will hit the health care system in rural West Virginia particularly hard. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the Mountain State are suffering from staff shortages. A large percentage of staff have chosen to remain unvaccinated, meaning the Biden Administration mandate could make the shortages much worse.
The complaint states that the vaccine mandate threatens to exacerbate already devastating shortages in health care staffing by forcing small rural hospitals to terminate their unvaccinated workers. If the unvaccinated staff quit or are fired, that will compel those hospitals to close certain divisions, cancel certain services or shutter altogether. Those dire consequences will stretch across rural America.
The lawsuit further states that the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate violates the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by seeking “to commandeer state-employee surveyors to become enforcers of CMS’s unlawful attempt to federalize national vaccine policy and override the States’ police power on matters of health and safety.”
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.