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Source & Scope of Public Health Legal Powers

Biden v. Missouri and Becerra v. Louisiana

Overview

Biden v. Missouri and Becerra v. Louisiana (U.S. Supreme Court, Jan. 13, 2022): The U.S. Supreme Court allowed a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule to take effect which requires facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid to ensure that their staff receive COVID-19 vaccinations, subject to religious or medical exemptions. The Secretary of Health and Human Services implemented the rule in part because employees in such contexts often work with higher risk elderly populations, some prospective patients have avoided receiving care out of fear of contracting COVID-19, and staffing shortages disrupt work. The Supreme Court concluded that the Secretary did not exceed his authority when issuing this rule, since it relates to his duty to “impose conditions on the receipt of Medicaid and Medicare funds that ‘[he] finds necessary in the interest of the health and safety of individuals who are furnished services.’” Additionally, the rule was not “arbitrary and capricious,” and it was not promulgated with inappropriate speed via emergency rulemaking processes. The Court thereby temporarily blocked lower court judgments which had halted the rule. Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett dissented, arguing CMS lacked the authority to impose the vaccine mandate. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – January 14, 2022.

View all cases under “Source & Scope of Public Health Legal Powers.”