Lee and 15 other states challenge vaccine mandate for health care workers

Posted at 4:06 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 17:06:08-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a new lawsuit filed Friday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Gov. Bill Lee said he and 15 other states will challenge a mandate for health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

"We are renewing a challenge to the CMS vaccine mandate in court so Tennessee health care workers have the right to private health care decisions," Lee said in a press release. "While this mandate represents the worst of federal overreach, it also threatens our ability to staff facilities and provide care for the elderly, disabled and other high-priority populations."

The lawsuit classified the federal government's effort to mandate the vaccine as a "scheme that hit the skids."

Simply put, the situation has changed," the attorneys general wrote in the suit. "And that reveals a fundamental, structural defect in the rule — its one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t account for developing data and circumstances. In recent weeks, federal authorities have begun to walk back prior claims about the efficacy of the three domestically available vaccines against the now dominant omicron variant."

The group also argued that the vaccine mandate effectively left the health care workers unemployed if they refused the mandate.

"The vaccine mandate also utterly fails to account for changes in the legal and regulatory landscape of mandated vaccines," the attorneys general wrote in the suit. "The rule was initially designed to work in tandem with mandates on other types of employers, including Head Start Programs, federal contractors, federal employees, and employers with over 100 employees. This would limit the alternative choices of employment for healthcare workers subject to the CMS vaccine mandate, further forcing them to choose vaccination over unemployment."

The lawsuit is asking for immediate relief on the issue and for a judge to declare the issue "arbitrary and capricious."