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West Virginia Among States Challenging Health Care Vaccine Mandate

W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

WHEELING — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Monday night that the state, along with 11 other states, have filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration in opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers, including those working for Medicare and Medicaid certified providers and suppliers.

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

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) 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 health care workers,” stated the release from Morrisey’s office. “It also violates multiple federal laws, clauses and doctrines and the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Biden announced in September steps to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Among them was a mandate that health care workers at hospitals and elsewhere that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding must be vaccinated.

Morrisey in his announcement said the mandate would significantly affect the health care system in rural West Virginia. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the state already are dealing with staff shortages, he said. If those healthcare workers lose their jobs for choosing not to get vaccinated, more people would lose access to necessary health care.

“The complaint states that the vaccine mandate threatens to exacerbate already devastating shortages in health care staffing by forcing small rural hospitals to terminate their unvaccinated workers,” the announcement stated. “If the unvaccinated staff quit or are fired, that will compel those hospitals to close certain divisions, cancel certain services or shutter altogether. Those dire consequences will stretch across rural America.”

In addition to West Virginia, attorneys general from Louisiana, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are plaintiffs in the case.

Ten other states already have sued the Biden Administration opposing the mandate. A federal appeals court in Louisiana on Friday extended a stay against the requirement.

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