Florida anti-vaccine mandate effort suffers a blow as judge refuses to block Biden health care policy

topline

A federal judge ruled against Florida this weekend, temporarily refusing to block the Biden government’s order mandating Covid-19 vaccines for health workers, the first major setback in the state’s wide-ranging efforts to oppose vaccine requirements of the federal government.

Key facts

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers rejected Florida’s request for a temporary restraining order or injunction that would block the federal vaccine rule — which would take effect Dec. 6 — as the state lawsuit continues.

Florida last week sued the Biden administration over the constitutionality of its vaccine policy, which requires vaccinations for all health professionals in facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Rogers, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said Florida’s complaint Saturday failed to show that the state would suffer “irreparable damage” if the mandate came into effect. and its employees, but has not provided any evidence that this will actually happen.

The judge also rejected Florida’s argument that the federal government could withdraw funding from the state for non-compliance with the mandate, saying “there is no evidence to suggest” that the federal government would immediately withdraw any funding if it failed to do so. policy comes into effect.

Rogers disputed Florida’s claims that the vaccine mandate would violate state sovereignty by conflicting with state policy, ruling that their argument is “uncredited.”

Christina Pushaw, spokesperson for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said: Forbes in an email, the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate is “outrageous” and the governor’s office “is working closely with the attorney general’s office and examining all our options.”

Crucial Quote

Florida’s lawsuit included affidavits “expressing”[ed] opinions of agency heads who “estimate” they “may” lose a certain percentage or number of employees, or speculate about the consequences they will face “if widespread layoffs occur”” when the mandate goes into effect, wrote Rodgers in the statement. “However, such opinions, without supporting factual evidence, remain speculative and may be disregarded as persuasive.”

key background

Florida has been one of the largest states to resist the Biden administration’s vaccine requirements for workers. The state has also filed a lawsuit against a federal contractor mandate and has threatened to sue over the federal government’s vaccination-or-test requirement for all major employers, though that rule is currently being blocked as the lawsuit progresses against it. DeSantis signed several bills last week that also target federal mandates, including a policy that requires all employers to make exceptions to vaccine policies, such as previous Covid-19 infection, pregnancy and willingness to use personal protective equipment. Another bill instructs the governor to develop a plan to take Florida out of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency responsible for the vaccine-or-test mandate for major employers.

Surprising fact

DeSantis, a Republican seen as a potential 2024 presidential nominee, signed the bills in Brandon, Florida — seen as a nod to conservatives’ anti-Biden rallying cry, “Let’s go, Brandon.”

What to watch out for

At least two other major lawsuits challenging the mandate of health professionals, filed by coalitions of more than 20 states in total, remain pending and could still lead to the vaccine requirement being dropped.

Tangent

Florida’s new law restricting vaccine mandates is already taking effect. Walt Disney World, Florida-based and the largest single-site employer in the country, paused its employee vaccine mandate this weekend in response to new state policies.

Read further

Florida Gov. DeSantis signs sweeping legislation limiting vaccination mandates, school mask rules and more (Forbes)

Here’s how Republican-led states are trying to block Biden’s employee vaccination mandates (Forbes)

Florida sues Biden over vaccine mandate for federal contractors (Associated Press)

2nd Group of States Challenge Vaccine Mandate for Health Professionals (Associated Press)

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