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Biden Team Appeals Texas Block on Health Worker Vaccine Mandate

Jan. 15, 2022, 1:36 AM

The Biden administration is appealing a federal court’s block on the health worker vaccine mandate in Texas, the only state that doesn’t have to comply with the rule after the U.S. Supreme Court said it could move forward in the rest of the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services Friday filed a notice to appeal a preliminary injunction granted Dec. 15 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The HHS also requested a stay of the injunction pending its appeal to the Fifth Circuit.

The agency’s requests follow a Thursday Supreme Court decision to lift injunctions in two separate cases that had blocked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ health worker vaccine mandate in 24 states. The high court said, among other things, that Congress had authorized the agency to take steps to protect the health and safety of Medicaid and Medicare recipients.

“Given the Supreme Court’s resolution of the merits of each of these claims, the substantiality of Defendants’ arguments on appeal, together with the balance of hardships, weigh heavily in favor of granting a stay pending appellate review,” the HHS said in its motion.

The CMS said in Friday guidance that medical facilities in the two dozen states affected by the Supreme Court litigation now have until March 15 to get their employees vaccinated. The agency also said that the guidance doesn’t apply to Texas, and that surveyors in the state “should not undertake any efforts to implement or enforce” the rule.

The district court ordered Texas to respond to the HHS’s motion for a stay on the injunction by Jan. 18.

The case is Texas v. Becerra, N.D. Tex., No. 2:21-cv-00229, notice of appeal filed 1/14/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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