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SCOTUS decision reveals who can mandate vaccines

Supreme Court
Posted at 9:48 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 23:20:33-05

TAMPA, Fla — A Supreme Court ruling on vaccine and testing mandates in the workplace became a bit of a head-scratcher Thursday.

Mark Levitt, a Tampa-based employment lawyer says the ruling comes down to authority.

"In the employment setting they said the OSHA reg[ulation] was not valid, but they did find that the reg[ulation] regarding Medicare and Medicaid funding was valid," he said.

He's talking about an OSHA regulation from November, that required private businesses, with more than 100 employees, to mandate vaccines and testing for employees.

Well, according to the supreme court’s decision OSHA doesn't have the authority to make that kind of mandate. So the court blocked it.

That said, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) also has a similar regulation. It mandates vaccines and testing for employees at healthcare facilities, that receive their funding.

But in this case, the court decided that CMS does have the authority to do that.

"In order to continue to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, they will have to require that," said Levitt.

ABC Action News reached out to the Florida Hospital Association and several local healthcare systems, to find out what that second ruling means for them.

"Today’s U.S Supreme court decision makes clear that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services can implement and enforce vaccination requirements for nearly all employees of health care facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Florida’s hospitals are committed to ensuring access to care for millions of elderly Floridians who depend on Medicare. Hospitals are obligated to remain compliant with the programs’ conditions of participation and must comply with this federal vaccine requirement now upheld by the highest court. Hospitals do not want to be caught between the state and federal governments and may still need clarity from the courts regarding federal preemption regarding the Florida state law."
Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association

"We will be reviewing the guidance with our counsel and deciding appropriate next steps. USF Health employees who work at CMS certified facilities will comply with all applicable federal and state requirements."
Dr. Mark Moseley, Chief Clinical Officer for USF Health and Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs Morsani College of Medicine

“The good news is 80 percent of BayCare team members are vaccinated and are protected against the worst impacts of COVID-19. Now that the nation’s highest court has lifted the injunction on the vaccination mandate for health care workers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, BayCare will work over the next few days to review the decision and its relationship to Florida’s vaccination laws to fully understand the impact on our unvaccinated health care workers.”

As far as private businesses are concerned, Levitt says Thursday's ruling doesn't impact their ability to create their own vaccine mandates for employees.

And he also adds that overall the ruling itself isn't set in stone just yet.

"So it is preliminary, but it is a precursor to what one would expect they will ultimately find," he said.