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Kansas AG urges court to reopen litigation into healthcare worker COVID-19 vaccine mandate

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Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 10:38 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas’s Attorney General has urged courts to reopen litigation into one of the nation’s four COVID-19 vaccine mandates currently entangled in legal battles.

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he asked the federal courts to reopen litigation against the Biden administration that challenges its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

The filing follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 13 decision to decline a temporary block of the mandate from being implemented while litigation proceeds.

Schmidt said the mandate’s current implementation has already caused disruption in the health care workforce - especially in small, rural communities.

Along with officials from nine other states, the AG said he filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to seek a lift of the stay on further district court proceedings.

Schmidt said the states also filed an amended complaint that alleges continuation of the federal vaccine mandate is illegal due to changed circumstances as the Omicron variant replaces Delta and now subsides itself.

The states argue while the Biden administration knew the possibility of new virus variants, it adopted “a rigid one-size-fits-all mandate that did not account for the advent of a new dominant variant” like Omicron. They claim the move did not properly account for the disruption to health care services the mandate would cause in already understaffed nursing homes and health care settings.

Schmidt said the amended complaint further alleges Congress could not properly delegate to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services the authority to issue such a sweeping mandate.

Earlier in February, the AG sent a letter to Governor Laura Kelly to urge her to seek a waiver from CMS to exempt rural health care workers from the mandate, as has been done by other governors.

Schmidt said Kansas, at the least, should insist the federal government expressly recognize and respect the religious and medical exemptions enacted in Kansas law when the Legislature called itself into special session in the fall of 2021.

The AG has aggressively fought federal COVID vaccine mandates since Sept. 9, when President Joe Biden said his “patience is wearing thin” and started to order the mandates.

To date, Schmidt said he has brought legal challenges to four vaccine mandates, three of which are currently blocked from being implemented in Kansas through federal court orders he obtained.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate for private employers was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal contractor mandate has been blocked by a federal appeals court and the Head Start mandate has been blocked by a federal district court.

To read the full text of Wednesday’s filing, click HERE.

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