January 14, 2022

Less than one week after hearing oral arguments, the U.S. Supreme Court has stayed injunctions against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Rule (“Vaccine Requirement”). As a result of the Court’s order, preliminary injunctions that had prevented CMS from enforcing the Vaccine Requirement in half of U.S. states will be stayed and CMS may implement the Vaccine Requirement in all states while the cases, originating in Missouri and Louisiana, continue their substantive courses. Those cases will proceed in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Eighth Circuits and could once again find their way to the nation’s highest court in the future.

The Court granted the federal government’s request to stay the preliminary injunctions, finding that CMS does have the statutory authority to implement the Vaccine Requirement, likening it to long-standing infection control procedures and other conditions mandated for facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Additionally, the Court concluded that the Vaccine Requirement did not violate the APA or other CMS-specific rule-making standards.

Under guidance previously issued by CMS, staff in covered health care facilities in states not challenging the Vaccine Requirement must have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or have been granted a qualifying exemption, by January 27, 2022 in for the facility to be considered compliant. CMS released a statement indicating that it was “pleased” and that the Court’s decision “will enable [CMS] to fully implement this rule.”