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LITTLE ROCK – Today, Matthew T. Schelp, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri, issued a preliminary injunction against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate which was issued by the Biden Administration on November 5, 2021. That mandate required almost every employee, trainee, student, volunteer, and third-party contractor at fifteen (15) categories of Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to have the first dose no later than December 6, 2021.
This mandate affected hospitals in Arkansas as well as numerous other healthcare facilities including state entities such as UAMS, the Arkansas State Hospital, the Arkansas Health Center and the Human Development Centers which are run by the Department of Human Services. This mandate would have had a detrimental impact on those entities and those being cared for within those entities by leading to an increased staffing shortage and increasing an already high attrition rate.
The Court’s ruling enjoining the mandate specifically noted that CMS did not have authority to mandate the vaccine; that CMS violated the Administrative Procedures Act when promulgating the mandate; and that the mandate was arbitrary and capricious. The mandate did not provide any alternatives to the vaccine such as daily or weekly testing. The Court also noted the irreparable harm the mandate would cause especially in rural areas which are having staffing shortages. This mandate would impact the physical health and wellbeing of the citizens of the states who were parties to the litigation. Arkansas is one of those states.
“I am thankful for the ruling issued today,” stated Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Vaccine mandates are not the appropriate method to increase our vaccination rates, and the decision today shows that Arkansas is not alone in this position. My administration will continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office as this case moves to trial.”
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