January 24, 2022

Supreme Court Decision Upholds Vaccine Rule for Most Nursing Home, Health Care Workers

In a 6-3 decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a U.S. Department of Labor emergency rule that would have required all businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or be tested weekly.

At the same time, in a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld a rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that requires vaccination for nearly all employees of nursing homes, hospitals and other federally funded health care facilities.

CMS guidance issued last Friday following the decision means that health care workers in 24 states where vaccine mandates were not yet in effect must receive at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine within 30 days and must be fully vaccinated by March 15. The decision will affect about 10 million people at about 76,000 health care facilities participating in the Medicaid and Medicare program, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The week before the ruling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported that roughly 16 percent of nursing home staff nationally were not fully vaccinated.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends vaccination as one of the most effective ways of keeping seniors safe from COVID-19. Vaccines have been proven to dramatically lower the risk of severe Covid infection for those residing in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

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