The Supreme Court on Friday will consider challenges to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ rule requiring coronavirus vaccination for almost all health-care workers at facilities participating in the agency’s programs. We led CMS in different administrations and sometimes have differing views on health-care policy. But here we agree: The vaccine requirement for health-care workers should stand.
First, it’s a policy that carries out congressional intent. Congress has explicitly authorized CMS to issue regulations, including emergency rules, to protect the health and safety of patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Indeed, many of these statutory authorities state that such actions are CMS’s “duty and responsibility.” Just as the Defense Department should ensure that a taxpayer-funded fighter jet delivered by a defense contractor is safe, so, too, must CMS make sure that participating health-care providers are delivering care in a safe environment.
Given that the coronavirus transmits so rapidly and that vaccines against it have proved to be safe and effective in reducing transmission, a vaccine requirement would protect patients. It’s also important for reliable staffing, as infections continue to disrupt facilities’ operations during the omicron surge. For these reasons, most medical and public health organizations support the requirement.
Read the entire opinion here.