by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost kept pressure on the Biden administration this week by joining a lawsuit challenging the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care employees.
Yost signed onto a federal lawsuit filed in Louisiana that wants the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ mandate declared illegal. Yost said the mandate affects about 17 million people across the country working full- and part-time jobs at hospitals, nursing facilities, hospices and home health agencies.
“We have seen the challenges nursing homes and other facilities have had in retaining and recruiting staff,” Yost said. “This mandate, and the walkouts that will likely follow, will only make those challenges worse – leaving vulnerable Ohioans without adequate care.”
The latest action was the third lawsuit Yost either filed or joined attacking different parts of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The other two, one challenging the vaccination mandate for federal contractors and one challenging the requirement for a vaccine of private businesses with more than 100 employees, are in the U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.
“It’s an unlawful use of executive power,” Yost said,” The president does not have the authority to make health-care decisions for Americans.”
Twelve other states are part of the health care worker lawsuit, including Louisiana, Georgia, Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.
The mandate applies to full-time employees, part-time employees, volunteers and contractors at health facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. The regulation was issued earlier this month by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and affects 76,000 health providers and 17 million workers.
Providers must develop a compliance policy by Dec. 6 and ensure all eligible staff receives the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – by Jan. 4, according to CMS.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last week temporarily suspended enforcement of the Biden administration’s private sector COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
The announcement came after the Fifth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals in New Orleans twice ordered implementation of the mandate halted, citing “grave” constitutional issues.
States, businesses and other groups filed 34 lawsuits against the Biden administration’s mandate that private sector businesses with 100 or more employees require workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face weekly testing. The policy also would impose nearly $14,000 in fines per employee if businesses are caught letting their workers skirt the directive.
The mandate was scheduled to go into effect Jan. 4 before the Fifth Circuit ordered the stay.
The lawsuits were consolidated by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and sent after a lottery to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is a regional editor with The Center Square.