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Attorney General O'Connor Sues Biden Administration to Block Healthcare Worker COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

OKLAHOMA CITY - Attorney General John O’Connor and 11 other state attorneys general filed a new lawsuit asking a federal court to stop the Biden administration’s overreaching “job or jab” COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. The mandate threatens to further burden the healthcare sector and patient well-being in Oklahoma, where a large percentage of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are already facing worker shortages.

The 12-state coalition filed the lawsuit and request for a preliminary injunction Monday in the U.S. District Court for Western District of Louisiana.

“I will not tolerate the Biden Administration threatening Oklahoma healthcare workers with their jobs after they have fearlessly braved the pandemic,” said General O’Connor. “Oklahoma is already suffering from staffing shortages, and this mandate will only worsen it, especially in rural Oklahoma.” 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 vaccine mandate on facilities that receive federal funding for treating patients exceeds the agency’s statutory authority and violates the Social Security Act’s prohibition on regulations that control the hiring and firing of healthcare workers. It also violates multiple federal laws, the Spending Clause, the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine, and the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

More gravely, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mandate threatens the well-being of people who rely on services provided by the federal healthcare program and the livelihoods of the those who provide that care.

“The Vaccine Mandate causes grave danger to vulnerable persons whom Medicare and Medicaid were designed to protect – the poor, sick, and elderly – by forcing the termination of millions of ‘healthcare heroes’ who are essential to providing healthcare services,” the lawsuit reads.

According to CMS, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate targets about a quarter of the nation’s healthcare workers who have not chosen to get vaccinated. The Biden administration’s core “objective is to coerce the unvaccinated workforce into submission or cause them to lose their livelihoods.” Without the injunction sought by General O’Connor, the result will be healthcare workers losing their jobs and America’s most vulnerable populations losing access to necessary medical care.

This will hit the healthcare system in rural Oklahoma particularly hard. Nearly 43 percent of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Oklahoma are suffering from staff shortages, according to the AARP’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard. More than 42 percent have chosen to remain unvaccinated, meaning the Biden mandate could make the healthcare workforce shortage much worse.

“The Vaccine Mandate threatens to exacerbate already devastating shortages in healthcare staffing by forcing small rural hospitals to terminate their unvaccinated workers,” the lawsuit states. “If the unvaccinated quit or are fired, that will compel those hospitals to close certain divisions, cancel certain services, or shutter altogether.”

The Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate violates the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by seeking “to commandeer state-employee surveyors to become enforcers of CMS’s unlawful attempt to federalize national vaccine policy and override the States’ police power on matters of health and safety.”

In addition to Attorney General O’Connor, attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia are plaintiffs in the case.