At odds with two judges in other parts of the country, a Pensacola-based federal judge backs her decision to dismiss Florida’s injunction request against a Biden administration rule that would require healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers on Wednesday issued a 19-page order saying she had considered a new Florida law to ban vaccination warrants, but the law has not changed its mind on the denial of the request for a preliminary State injunction.
Rodgers also separated from federal judges in Missouri and Louisiana who issued injunctions against the Biden administration’s rule – including a decision Tuesday by Louisiana U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty to issue a preliminary injunction to nationwide against the vaccination mandate.
Rodgers wrote in a footnote in her order on Wednesday that she “respectfully disagrees and is not convinced by the reasoning of these courts.”
She wrote that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which released the rule last month, “are not usurping state police power to regulate broadly for the common good, but have instead put in place a health precaution for the effective and efficient administration of the federal government. health care programs it is responsible for administering.
Rodgers dismissed Florida’s injunction request on November 20, but later said it would reconsider the decision due to the state’s new law, which was passed in a special legislative session the month latest. She said she was not informed of the passage of the law, which was signed on Nov. 18 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, before delivering the Nov. 20 decision.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody challenged the Nov. 20 ruling in the U.S. 11th Court of Appeals. A copy of Rodgers’ supplemental order on Wednesday was filed with the Atlanta Court of Appeals. She said she believed it was appropriate to approach state law as the appeal is being considered “since the matter was not resolved in the original order.”
The federal rule would apply to hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. Under the rule, healthcare workers would be required to receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by December 6 and be fully immunized by January 4, with limited exemptions for medical and religious reasons.
As Doughty issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the rule, Moody’s office on Wednesday requested that the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals move forward with the Florida case, as the Louisiana’s decision will likely be appealed. Florida is first asking for what is called an “injunction pending appeal” which would temporarily suspend the vaccination rule.
“If the national injunction (in the case of Louisiana) was maintained or reduced, Florida and its citizens would be unprotected as of Dec. 6,” Moody’s office said in Wednesday’s filing. Florida therefore respectfully requests that the 11th Circuit court continue to consider Florida’s petition urgent and render a decision before the December 6 deadline. ”
The vaccination requirement would affect hundreds of private hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers in Florida, as well as state agencies that provide health services. State and industry officials have repeatedly pointed out that the requirement could exacerbate staff shortages, including at facilities such as the state’s veteran nursing homes.
Moody’s office alleged that the federal government exceeded its legal authority in issuing the vaccination requirement and failed to follow proper procedures, such as state consultation and notification. Further, the lawsuit argues that the requirement is “arbitrary and capricious”. Much of the lawsuit is based on alleged violations of federal law on administrative procedure.
In a document filed Monday with the appeals court, Moody’s office said “the warrant is repeatedly illegal.”
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have taken the unprecedented step of mandating the vaccination of millions of frontline health workers,” the document said. “The measure risks exacerbating an already acute shortage of healthcare workers and harming the highly vulnerable populations Medicare and Medicaid are helping, while claiming to nullify Florida’s sovereign prerogative to ban forced COVID-19 vaccination. ”
But Rodgers, who was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush, wrote in his order on Wednesday that the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services has broad regulatory authority over Medicare programs and Medicaid. The department includes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
She also wrote that a “balance of actions” favored the denial of the injunction request.
“In this case, the safety of patients and of the Medicare and Medicaid staff administering the program throughout this pandemic, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and the need to slow the spread of the virus, is greatly improved by due to COVID. -19 vaccine, according to (at) medical science and public health, “Rodgers wrote. “This interest in public safety is particularly compelling in the context of healthcare facilities, which are responsible for protecting vulnerable patients participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs, and therefore weighs heavily on the denial of an injunction.”
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