Healthcare Vax Standard Meets SCOTUS Approval on Safety Bases

18 Jan, 2022 Frank Ferreri


Washington, DC ( – Last week’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court gave a no-go to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for all non-healthcare industries grabbed headlines and gave employers yet another pandemic-era reason to stay on their toes.

Less dramatic, perhaps, was the Top Court’s ruling in Biden v. Missouri, Nos. 21A240 (U.S. 01/13/22), which gave a thumbs up to the administration’s requirement that all healthcare workers roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 jab. In upholding the mandate, the Court cited the Department of Health and Human Services’ “most basic” function to ensure that healthcare providers who protect their patients’ health and safety.

Here’s what the Court’s majority found acceptable in the healthcare rule, which applies to facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.

  • The rule fell within the authorities that Congress has conferred upon HHS. “COVID-19 is a highly contagious, dangerous, and – especially for Medicare and Medicaid patients – deadly disease,” the majority wrote. “After all, ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangerous virus to their patients is consistent with a fundamental principle of the medical profession: first, do no harm.”
  • Healthcare facilities that wish to participate in Medicare and Medicaid have always been obligated to satisfy a host of conditions that address the safe and effective provision of healthcare. “Such requirements govern, in detail, for instance, the amount of time after admission or surgery within which a hospital patient must be examined and by whom, the procurement, transportation, and transplantation of human kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, and pancreases, the tasks that may be delegated by a physician to a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, and, most pertinent here, the programs that hospitals must implement to govern the ‘surveillance, prevention, and control of … infectious diseases,’” the majority explained, citing federal regulations.
  • HHS routinely imposes conditions of participation that relate to the qualifications and duties of healthcare workers themselves. The majority pointed out that federal regulations require the training of hospital personnel and staff on infection prevention and control guidelines, direct qualified dieticians to complete at least 900 hours of supervised practice, and specify personnel authorized to use radiologic equipment.
  • Vaccination requirements are a common feature of the provision of healthcare in America. “Healthcare workers around the country are ordinarily required to be vaccinated for diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza, and measles, mumps, and rubella,” the majority explained.



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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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