The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s decision late Wednesday to suspend enforcement of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses is sowing confusion in the home care and home healthcare industry.
“We hope that we can get some degree of finality on the myriad of existing and pending vaccine rules,” National Association for Home Care & Hospice President William Dombi told McKnight’s Home Care Pulse in an email.”We face not only the OSHA ETS [Emergency Temporary Standard], but also the OSHA Healthcare ETS, the CMS mandate and various state mandates. The current situation of uncertainty is an untenable environment for the home care community.
OSHA’s about-face follows a federal appeals court decision last week to uphold a stay on the mandate.
In a statement on its website, OSHA said the court ordered it not to take steps to enforce the emergency temporary standard until further court order. It further stated: “While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities…”
The ETS filed earlier this month required that employees at companies with 100 workers or more get fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, or get tested weekly at the employee’s expense. The mandate has come under fire in a number of Republican-led states and has resulted in three dozen lawsuits. The OSHA mandate covered an estimated 84 million U.S. workers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a separate mandate covering healthcare workers, including those in home healthcare. That mandate is also being challenged in the courts. Earlier this week, a dozen states filed a lawsuit in Louisiana federal court saying it violates the constitutional rights of healthcare workers. A similar lawsuit was filed in Missouri federal court on behalf of 10 states last week. The Biden administration has not yet responded to either of those court challenges.