WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — On Thursday, Jan. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration is allowed to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S.

The Court also ruled that the Biden administration cannot enforce a requirement for employees at large businesses to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job. 

The vaccine mandate that is allowed to be enforced nationwide covers virtually all health care workers in the country. It applies to health care providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding and could affect 76,000 health care facilities as well as home health care providers. This ruling does have medical and religious exemptions.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) is a nonprofit federation of affiliated state health organizations that represent over 14,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities that care for around five million people every year.

They released a statement in reaction to the Supreme Court upholding the vaccine mandate for health care workers. The statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA:

We respect the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court but remain concerned that the repercussions of the vaccine mandate among health care workers will be devastating to an already decimated long-term care workforce. When we are in the midst of another COVID surge, caregivers in vaccine-hesitant communities may walk off the job because of this policy, further threatening access to care for thousands of our nation’s seniors. We continue to ask that CMS and state surveyors show leniency during this critical time as well as consider a regular testing option for unvaccinated staff members to prevent worsening staff shortages.

“Long-term care providers have been relentless in encouraging staff to get vaccinated, and we have made considerable progress with 83 percent of nursing home staff now fully vaccinated. However, rampant misinformation has sowed doubt and concern among many on the front lines. We must collectively address the root cause of vaccine hesitancy rather than penalize providers who are making valiant efforts.”

American Health Care Association

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on both vaccine mandates: