PHOENIX - Attorney General Mark Brnovich is co-leading a multistate coalition in filing a lawsuit to stop the Biden administration’s overreaching “job or jab” COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. The mandate threatens to further burden the health care sector and patient well-being in Arizona, where nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are already facing worker shortages.
The coalition filed the lawsuit and a request for a preliminary injunction today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
“The theme of this Veteran’s Day Weekend also applies to our health care workers, who have been on the frontlines since the start of this pandemic. We don’t turn our backs on our heroes,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “It’s our turn to protect their individual liberties and ensure that all Americans can continue to make their own choices regarding COVID-19 vaccines.”
The coalition’s lawsuit alleges that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 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 COVID-19 mandate threatens the well-being of people who rely on services provided by the federal health care programs and the livelihoods of those who provide that care.
"The Vaccine Mandate causes grave danger to the vulnerable persons whom Medicare and Medicaid were designed to protect -- the poor, children, sick, and the elderly -- by forcing the termination of millions of essential “healthcare heroes," the complaint reads.
According to CMS, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate targets about a quarter of the nation’s health care workers who have chosen not to get vaccinated. The Biden administration’s core “objective is to coerce the unvaccinated workforce into submission or cause them to lose their livelihoods.” Without the injunction, sought by General Brnovich, the end result 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 Arizona particularly hard. Around 25 percent of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Arizona are suffering from staff shortages, according to the AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. Around 32 percent have chosen to remain unvaccinated, meaning the Biden mandate could make the shortages much worse.
“The Vaccine Mandate threatens to exacerbate already devastating shortages in healthcare staffing by forcing small rural hospitals to terminate their unvaccinated workers,” the complaint states. “If unvaccinated workers quit or are fired, that will compel those hospitals to close certain divisions, cancel certain services, or shutter altogether."
The coalition alleges that the Biden administration’s COVID-19 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 Arizona, attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia are plaintiffs in the case.
Copy of the complaint.
Copy of the preliminary injunction.