Iowa joins third lawsuit against federal vaccine mandates

By: - November 10, 2021 6:18 pm

A medical worker holds a vial of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of Truman Medical Centers/University Health)

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that Iowa has joined a third lawsuit against federal vaccine mandates.

The newest lawsuit targets a federal mandate that requires employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they work at health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirement gives staff one month to get the first shot, and then until Jan. 4 to be fully vaccinated.

Reynolds argued in a news release that the requirement is an “attack on individual liberties” and that it could worsen workforce shortages in the health care industry.

“Medical providers that have been on the frontlines of this pandemic saving lives deserve the freedom and ability to make their own informed health care decisions,” Reynolds said in a release.

Iowa has five state-operated facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid, including the Iowa Veterans Home and the Glenwood and Woodward Resource Centers. The Iowa Veterans Home in October experienced its sixth outbreak of the pandemic, the most of any long-term care facility in the state, and the Glenwood Resource Center has had one of the highest refusal rates of state-run facilities. 

Iowa joins nine other states in the lawsuit.

This is the third such lawsuit in recent weeks, as Iowa also challenged a vaccine mandate for federal employees and a mandate for employees of large companies.

On Monday, a U.S. federal appeals court froze the mandate for large companies, which had been scheduled to take effect in early January. The Biden administration urged companies to move ahead with the new rules anyway.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.

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