On Wednesday, December 22, 2021, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) filed amicus curiae briefs in two cases in the United States Supreme Court: Biden v. Missouri, No. 21A240, and Becerra v. Louisiana, No. 21A241. In these cases, two district courts issued injunctions preventing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing a new regulation requiring the staff of all healthcare providers participating in Medicare or Medicaid to be vaccinated against Covid-19. The federal government has asked the Supreme Court to stay these injunctions pending appeal, and SEIU, AFT, and AFSCME support the federal government’s stay applications. As the Unions argue, under-vaccination poses severe risks to healthcare workers as well as patients, and CMS’s rule is critical for ensuring that healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes can function safely and effectively in the face of an ongoing pandemic. The Unions’ briefs highlight the stories of two SEIU members who work in nursing homes on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19 and have seen the need for staff vaccination firsthand. The Unions’ briefs also demonstrate that, contrary to the conclusion reached by the lower courts, CMS has clear statutory authority to issue the regulation, which is a straightforward health and safety standard for the Medicare and Medicaid programs and does not implicate the Supreme Court’s “major questions” precedents.
Altshuler Berzon LLP is counsel of record for the Unions as amici curiae.