TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Saying it’s one of those “unshielded” states, Florida is urging a federal appeals court to at least temporarily block a rule the Biden administration requires Healthcare workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
David Costello, assistant state attorney general, filed a document Wednesday afternoon in the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals indicating a new directive by the Biden administration to go ahead with the vaccination requirement. The directive will apply to Florida and other states that have not received a preliminary order against the request.
The US Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on January 7 in cases from other parts of the country about the legality of the claim, but it is unclear when the justices will bring them up. make a judgment.
Pensacola-based District Judge Casey Rodgers last month denied Florida’s request for a preliminary order against the rule, and a panel of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals also refused to block it. that work.
Florida on December 16 filed a request for an Atlanta-based appeals court to issue an order that would at least uphold the rule while deciding on the underlying appeal — a move known as seeking an “order.” pending appeal”. But the appeals court did not process the petition on Thursday morning.
In the document filed Wednesday, Costello said Biden’s new administrative directive will have 30 days to comply in Florida and about two dozen other states that do not have the order. It said “the new enforcement memo emphasizes the need for prompt court intervention en banc (in full).”
“Facilities in unprotected states now have only 30 days to ensure that 100% of their employees have received at least one dose of vaccine,” Costello wrote. “If facilities refuse to comply, they will eventually face enforcement action, from financial penalties to funding freezes to the complete termination of agreements with Medicare and Their Medicaid.”
The immunization requirement, issued in early November, will apply to staff at hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The request was originally scheduled to go into effect on December 6, but the Biden administration suspended it because of orders issued in the Louisiana and Missouri cases.
But the directive issued Tuesday by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services indicates that the federal government will begin enforcing the request if possible. According to a copy of the document submitted by Costello, there will be 30 days for healthcare workers to give at least one dose of the vaccine and 60 days for two doses.
“These changes are necessary to protect the health and safety of patients and staff during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” the federal memo said. “COVID-19 vaccination requirements and policies and procedures… must comply with applicable federal civil rights and nondiscrimination laws and protections, including providing appropriate measures reasonable to individuals who are entitled to a legal right because they have a disability or have sincere religious beliefs, practices, or observations that conflict with immunization requirements. “
A federal district judge in Louisiana initially issued a nationwide order against the vaccination requirement, but the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals this month argued that decision went too far. The New Orleans-based Court of Appeals reversed the order that only applied to the 14 states that filed the lawsuit in Louisiana.
That actually left Florida without a restraining order against the claim.
The office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody argued in a December 16 petition asking for a full appeals court hearing that the provision violates federal law and would exacerbate problems with federal law. personnel in health care facilities, including state-run facilities such as veterans’ nursing homes.
“A vaccine proxy risks exacerbating these dire situations,” the petition said. “Officials at state-run healthcare facilities hope that more health care workers will resign than vaccinate.”
But Rodgers, the Pensacola-based district judge, and a majority of the three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected the state’s call to halt the request.
The majority of the appeals panel, which includes Judges Robin Rosenbaum and Jill Pryor, singled out the justification for the rule as the nation continues to grapple with the pandemic. The opinion said that U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who oversees the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, was looking into issues such as whether requiring vaccinations would make health care workers leave or not.
“Although many health workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the Secretary finds that vaccination rates are still too low in many health facilities,” the opinion said. “Unvaccinated employees continue to pose a significant threat to patients because the virus that causes COVID-19 is highly transmissible and dangerous. The secretary cited data reflecting that the virus spreads easily between healthcare workers and from healthcare workers to patients, and that the likelihood of such spread is higher when healthcare workers are not immunized. “
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