The building housing the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC

Federal healthcare regulations regarding COVID-19 continue to shift. As the fate of the two national vaccine mandates now lies with the Supreme Court, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has disclosed it is withdrawing portions of its COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS).

The Supreme Court disclosed last week that it plans to hear oral arguments on Jan. 7 concerning both OSHA’s vaccine mandate and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ vaccine mandate.

OSHA’s mandate, which covers employers of 100 people or more, is in effect nationally after a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a national stay on the mandate earlier this month. CMS’ mandate, which affects healthcare organizations that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, is in effect in 26 states. Court decisions on both mandates were appealed to the Supreme Court.

OSHA healthcare standard

Meanwhile, earlier this week, OSHA disclosed it is withdrawing the non-recordkeeping portions of its June 2021 healthcare ETS. The COVID-19 log (list of all employees who contract COVID-19, work-related or not) and reporting of work-related hospitalizations and deaths remain in effect, according to a COVID-19 update by the Polsinelli law firm.

OSHA noted that it plans to issue a final standard to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.

“As OSHA works towards a permanent regulatory solution, OSHA will vigorously enforce the general duty clause and its general standards, including the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protection Standards, to help protect healthcare employees from the hazard of COVID-19,” the agency said.

The healthcare ETS, which OSHA issued in June, offers guidance to home care and other healthcare employees about workplace protocols surrounding COVID-19. This ETS differs from the so-called vaccinate-or-test ETS, which is now in the hands of the Supreme Court and concerns rules about COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.