"The scale falls clearly in favor of healthcare facilities operating with some unvaccinated employees, staff, trainees, students, volunteers and contractors, rather than the swift, irremediable impact of requiring healthcare facilities to choose between two undesirable choices — providing substandard care or providing no healthcare at all," announced U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in a 32-page order Monday.
The ten states affected by the ruling are those that sued the Biden Administration over the rule: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Biden's Nov. 5 order applied to health workers in hospitals that get federal funding through Medicaid or Medicare, with Biden claiming that the rule was required to help check the spread of COVID-19 among the country's health care workers.
Though Schelp ruled the order likely surpassed Biden's authority, giving the ten states a temporary victory as the case continues to wind its way through the system.
The ten states sued the Administration soon after the order was issued, claiming it infringed on states' rights and would worsen health care worker shortages.
The ruling comes days after OSHA declared that it was suspending its enforcement of Biden's vaccine mandate for private employers with over 100 employees after it was blocked by a federal court, which ruled the agency should "take no steps to implement or enforce" the regulation.
"OSHA is complying with the 5th Circuit's stay," a Department of Labor official announced. "OSHA is not enforcing or implementing the [regulation] — so they are not engaging or offering compliance assistance."
Schelp announced in his ruling that the states who sued the Administration were "likely to succeed" in the case that Congress hadn't given the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services the authority to form the mandate. He also announced that the mandate could put facilities in a bind without adequate staff to provide services – particularly in rural areas.
"CMS seeks to overtake an area of traditional state authority by imposing an unprecedented demand to federally dictate the private medical decisions of millions of Americans," Schelp addressed. "Such action challenges traditional notions of federalism."
The requirement would have affected over 17 million workers in roughly 76,000 health care facilities and home health care providers. Under the rule, announced Nov. 4, those affected would have to get their first dose of a vaccine by Dec. 6 and their second shot by Jan. 4.