Healthcare-related vaccine mandate put on hold by federal judge

MIAMI VALLEY — A U.S. District Court judge in Louisiana has halted the CMS vaccine mandate, which could impact healthcare systems in the Miami Valley.

Under the CMS vaccine mandate, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was requiring the COVID-19 vaccination of staff at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The deadline for the first dose was Dec. 6 and employees would have to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

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The federal agency said the mandate “protects those fighting this virus on the front lines while also delivering assurances to individuals and their families that they will be protected when seeking care.”

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty said in his ruling that “during a pandemic such as this one, it is even more important to safeguard the separation of powers set forth in our Constitution to avoid erosion of our liberties.”

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“This matter will ultimately be decided by a higher court than this one. However, it is important to preserve the status quo in this case,” Doughty said. “The liberty interests of the unvaccinated requires nothing less.”

News Center 7 has asked the White House for a comment on the judge’s decision and are awaiting a response.

The judge’s decision was to impose a nationwide injunction for pausing the mandate.

“Although this Court considered limiting the injunction to the fourteen Plaintiff States, there are unvaccinated healthcare workers in other states who also need protection,” Doughty said.

The CMS mandate prompted both Kettering Health and Dayton Children’s Hospital to change existing vaccine policies to remove proof of previous COVID-19 infection, pregnancy, breast feeding and trying to conceive exemptions in order to be compliant with standards set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Dayton Children’s told News Center 7 it is still evaluating what the impact from the ruling would be for the healthcare system.

Following Tuesday’s ruling, Kettering Health said its “vaccine policy protects the health and safety of our staff, our patients, and our community.”

“We began our vaccination prior to the CMS requirements. The current rise in COVID-19 cases across our region and state emphasizes the importance of being vaccinated. We continue to urge everyone who can be vaccinated to do so, as the vaccine is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19,” Kettering Health said in a statement.

It was not clear if any of the previously approved exemptions would be reinstated by Dayton Children’s, Kettering Health or Premier Health.

“We are reviewing the court’s decision and will determine next steps we need to take, if any, after a thorough review,” a Premier Health spokesman said Wednesday.

The decision on the CMS vaccine mandate came the same day another federal judge issued an injunction that halted the federal vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in Ohio and two other states.

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