By Erica Thomas, Managing Editor

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit Monday against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate planned for a large number of healthcare workers.

The suit seeks to block the Biden administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate, which requires healthcare employees of most Medicare and Medicaid providers to get the vaccine or lose their jobs, according to Marshall. That would mean around 17 million workers in about 76,000 hospitals and other healthcare facilities would have to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.

“Federal contractor employees, followed by all businesses with 100 or more employees, were singled out by Biden’s heavy-handed vaccine edict,” Marshall said. “Not satisfied with stalling the national economy, on November 4, Biden doubled down and expanded his vaccine mandate to cover most Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers, placing almost all of the nation’s healthcare workers in its crosshairs.”

The CMS mandate does not give employers the opportunity to offer weekly testing in lieu of vaccination.

“One can only imagine the damage that will be done by this mandate to already short-staffed rural and community hospitals, clinics and nursing homes that receive federal funds for Medicare and Medicaid services,” Marshall added. “They are effectively being held hostage by Biden to either force vaccination compliance by January 4, 2022, or fire vitally-needed doctors, nurses and other medical staff.“

The Attorney General joined colleagues from Louisiana, Montana, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia in bringing this action.

Just last week, 10 other attorneys general in other states filed a similar lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, against CMS's mandate after it put in place an "Interim Final Rule" creating its own mandate ahead of the Biden mandate, and expanding its scope. Those states were Missouri, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced today [Sept. 9] that emergency regulations requiring vaccinations for nursing home workers will be expanded to include hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies, among others, as a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” CMS policy states. "The decision was based on the continued and growing spread of the virus in health care settings, especially in parts of the U.S. with higher incidence of COVID-19. “

Protests have taken place outside of hospitals in places such as South Carolina’s Conway Medical Center, where workers said they were protesting the mandate, not the hospital.

The hospital released the following statement:

Conway Medical Center (CMC) will follow all guidelines as set forth by the federal government in regards to vaccine mandates for employees. All healthcare providers across the nation were notified by The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that failure to require and complete the vaccine mandate for employees will result in a loss of ability to operate, as well as civil and monetary penalties. Once we received this notification from CMS and OSHA, all employees received a letter from CMC outlining the federal requirement. A majority of our employees are fully vaccinated. We continue to work with those employees who are not, to bring CMC into compliance so we can continue to serve the healthcare needs of our community. Approved medical or religious exemptions are being accepted through the CMC Human Resources and Employee Health Departments.

Attorney General Marshall’s November 15 lawsuit to block the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate can be read hereThe State is also seeking a preliminary injunction.

Marshall previously filed a lawsuit to block the mandate on businesses with 100 or more employees. That suit can be read hereThe State filed a motion to stay the mandate on Nov. 8.

Marshall’s October 29 lawsuit to block the federal-contractor vaccine mandate can be read here. The State filed for preliminary relief on November 5.

“Each of these mandates has distinct and severe legal deficiencies that warrant distinct and severe responses from the states,” Marshall concluded. “This is about so much more than vaccines.  It’s about planting a flag to say that ‘enough is enough.’  The federal government’s power is not boundless, but if we are not vigilant to fight here and now, there will be no going back.”