Schelp stated that the mandate's "vast economic, political significance," which requires vaccinations at all healthcare facilities taking part in Medicare or Medicaid, makes it imperative that Congress authorizes the rule. Additionally, the rule "overtake[s] a traditional area of state authority."
The judge also ruled CMS had "improperly ignored notice and comment requirements" when imposing the rule. He also challenged the federal government's claim that the mandate was an "emergency" measure because it waited for months before the vaccines were available to impose it.
As the litigation progresses, the injunction will only apply to Alaska, Arkansas and Iowa as well as Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Wyoming.
An additional legal challenge by more than a dozen states is pending. A federal judge previously denied an order in Florida's case challenging its vaccine mandate last Wednesday.
CMS has yet to respond to a request for comments.
“No one questions that protecting patients and healthcare workers from contracting COVID is a laudable objective,” Schelp wrote. “But the Court cannot, in good faith, allow CMS to enact an unprecedented mandate that lacks a ‘rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.’”
The federal healthcare worker mandate, one of many vaccine orders that the Biden administration has imposed is not only for federal employees but also for contractors and federal employees. There are also mandates for private employers with over 100 employees to use vaccines or test. These mandates have been met with strong opposition by Republican-led states. The lawsuit at issue Monday is one of many litigation challenges to the mandates. Although legal challenges to the federal contractor mandate are still pending, the order affecting private employers was temporarily blocked by the Biden administration. However, it has requested an appeals court to restore it.