EXCLUSIVE – Twenty-one state attorneys general are calling on the Biden administration to end its “draconian vaccination mandate” on U.S. health care providers because it is causing a critical shortage of health care workers and is justified on grounds data and outdated scientific data.
In a petition Thursday reviewed exclusively by Fox News Digital, 21 Republican state attorneys general, led by AG Austin Knudsen of Montana, demanded that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS ) repeal the Interim Final Rule. , or IFR, which authorized the federal mandate in effect since November 2021.
“The deeper we dig into this, the more we look at, this interim final rule was just completely arbitrary and capricious,” Knudsen told Fox News Digital. “Science has never argued that the COVID vaccine will ever prevent transmission.”
In the nearly 40-page document, state attorneys general made their case for repealing the mandate that covers Medicare and Medicaid providers, and therefore affects virtually every healthcare worker nationwide. It affects 10.4 million workers in 76,000 health facilities as well as home care providers.
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“Pfizer never tested its vaccine to see if it prevented the transmission of COVID-19,” the AGs wrote. “And when CMS released the IFR, they didn’t know if vaccines would prevent transmission of COVID.”
“At the time, there was no data conclusively demonstrating that vaccines would prevent infection and transmission,” the GAs said. They added that even fully vaccinated people contracted and transmitted COVID-19, a trend that has continued even with the introduction of the first-generation booster and the new bivalent Omicron booster, they claim.
“But that hasn’t stopped CMS from blocking IFR’s draconian vaccine mandate,” the AGs said.
According to their filing, studies show that “forced vaccination of millions of healthcare workers will not significantly limit the transmission of COVID.”
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“Worse still, the emergency vaccination mandate has left healthcare facilities – which were already struggling to maintain needed staffing ratios – in dire straits, further exacerbating staffing shortages in the healthcare sector, especially in rural and border states,” the AGs noted.
“When this rule fell, and the months leading up to this rule, it was the first phone call and email my office received from healthcare workers, just terrified of it,” Knudsen told Fox News. Digital.
Knudsen said the mandate had the biggest effect on nursing homes in Montana, where ten skilled nursing homes closed in 2022 due to the resulting shortage of healthcare workers.
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“Now that ‘the pandemic is over’ and given the likely violations of numerous statutory and constitutional rights…the Secretary and CMS should take immediate action to repeal the IFR and withdraw the State Surveyor’s Guidelines,” indicates the petition.
The AGs said CMS “co-opted state surveyor staff to ensure compliance” with the mandate. “He issued several guidelines treating state surveyors as federal employees (the State Surveyor Guidelines).”
The AGs challenged the authority of Biden’s health department in authorizing the warrant, saying that in the 57-year history of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, HHS has never interpreted federal laws “to authorize a industry-wide vaccination requirement”. They said the courts “must be skeptical” of CMS’s claim that the agency can circumvent congressional approval to impose the rule.
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“The very fact that CMS fails to point to clear legal authority and instead collects a hodgepodge of different laws to buttress its claimed authority is perhaps the best evidence of violation of the main issues,” argued the AG.
The attorneys general of Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, Nebraska, Alabama, New Hampshire, Alaska, Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Kansas and Utah have all signed the petition.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.