The 5-4 decision was predicated on the premise of “do no harm” and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts which was the swing vote. The opinion declared CMS has the authority to enforce the mandate. “Ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangerous virus to their patients is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medical profession: first, do no harm,” they wrote.
This new decree comes at the end of pandemic as we are seeing less severe strain(s) such as the Omicron variant sweep through the country and both hospitalizations and deaths continue to plummet. It begs the question why “force.”
CMS regularly imposes prescriptive, costly requirements for hospitals and other providers as a condition of their Medicaid and Medicare participation, Brian Fletcher, the administration’s principal deputy solicitor general told the court during expedited oral arguments Friday. These requirements will only cost healthcare facilities more money, countless workers, and most likely erode the workplace confidence and cohesion in a setting that needs it most.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett wrote in their dissent, “Even if the Federal Government has the authority to require the vaccination of healthcare workers, it did not have the authority to impose that requirement in the way it did.”
“These cases are not about the efficacy or importance of COVID–19 vaccines,” Thomas wrote in his dissent.
“They are only about whether CMS has the statutory authority to force healthcare workers, by coercing their employers, to undergo a medical procedure they do not want and cannot undo,” he wrote.