TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, challenging the new federal vaccine mandate for health care facilities that participate in Medicaid and Medicare programs. Schmidt argued the requirement will threaten numerous already short-staffed facilities with closure.
Schmidt joined nine other state attorneys general in filing a petition with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri seeking to block the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from implementing its mandate for employee COVID-19 vaccinations in healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes and rural clinics.
“Kansas healthcare facilities and their employees are already facing hardships due to the stresses of the pandemic and the current labor shortage. Placing this additional mandate on healthcare facilities and employees will exacerbate this problem and will likely lead some facilities – particularly those in underserved, rural areas – to close due to an inability to hire sufficient staff. The administration, in forcing through yet another one-size-fits-all regulation, failed to consider these consequences in crafting this rushed rule, and the courts should strike it down.”KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL DEREK SCHMIDT
Wednesday’s filing asks that the court declare the mandate arbitrary, capricious and unlawful under the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
“The case illustrates why police power over compulsory vaccination has always been the province of – and still properly belongs to – the States,” the attorneys general wrote in their petition. “Vaccination requirements are matters that depend on local factors and conditions. Whatever might make sense in New York City, St. Louis or Omaha could be decidedly counterproductive and harmful in rural communities … Federalism allow States to tailor such matters in the best interests of their communities. The heavy hand of CMS’s nationwide mandate does not.”
This case is the third filed by Schmidt challenging the federal government’s recent attempts to mandate vaccination. Schmidt has joined six other attorneys general in separate lawsuits asking other federal courts to declare illegal two different federal vaccination mandates – one applying to businesses and universities that participate in federal contracts and a second regarding an emergency temporary standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – and to block their implementation. A federal appeals court acted on a similar suit filed against OSHA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, putting the federal action on hold.
“I continue to encourage Kansans to be vaccinated, but that personal health care decision should be made by each individual and not mandated by any federal government agency,” Schmidt said. “At a time when Kansas citizens are seeking a return to normalcy in their personal health care, this mandate would further disrupt and impede the efforts of health care facilities and their employees all across Kansas to provide the level of care citizens expect and deserve.”
A copy of the lawsuit against CMS is available at here.