What the recent ruling against a federal vaccine mandate means

Posted at 6:15 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 21:45:43-05

We are getting more clarity on what a recent ruling against a federal vaccine mandate means, and who it will affect.

Judge Terry A. Doughty in the Western District of Louisiana granted a motion for a preliminary injunction.

For now, the judge’s ruling blocks providers who are not following the Biden's administration's mandate from losing their status as Medicaid or Medicare providers. A few weeks ago, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed suit with more than 10 other states.

“Doctor’s offices were exempt from the rule, but not entirely; they weren’t affected by the rule, but if a doctor had privileges at a hospital or ambulatory care center, or psychiatric center or dialysis center, it would’ve affected that doctor,” said Liz Murrell, Louisiana’s solicitor general.

She adds the issue at hand is not whether vaccines are a good idea.

“It’s about whether the federal government can force people to be vaccinated upon threat of losing their job, and for the state, we had the additional concern that our entire Medicaid funding was being threatened,” said Murrell.

She says this means the state of Louisiana would miss out on $16 billion for these services.

The question of whether or not Biden's mandate is unlawful or unconstitutional will only be answered by one entity. Labor and Employment attorney Greg Guidry says that will be the responsibility of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He says there’s still a long road ahead with these mandates and their legality.

“What will actually happen... Let’s flip a coin,” he said.

Meanwhile, the AG's office says the executive branch is exceeding its power and they plan to continue filing lawsuits.

“The government’s continued attack on American families is unprecedented and we will continue to fight these mandates,” said Murrell.

In previous hearings dealing with private health systems, defense attorneys have said employees who don’t want to get the vaccine can work elsewhere.

“I don’t think that it is fair to simply dismiss that by simply saying you can go work somewhere else,” said Murrell. “And certainly, when the federal government has imposed these massive mandates on employers, you can’t go across the street and work somewhere else.”

In his ruling, the judge says there is no question that mandating a vaccine is something that should be done by Congress and not a government agency. He adds it is still unclear whether or not an act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional.

KATC reached out to Ochsner Health and Our Lady of Lourdes for comment and received this statement from OLOL:

Our Lady of Lourdes cares for patients who are elderly, newborn, critically ill, and immunocompromised. To protect our patients and those who care for them, we are in full support of a vaccine requirement for our team members. The number of employees with a full series of COVID-19 vaccines is a fluid number. Each day, employees are making decisions to receive their vaccine or are receiving an approved exemption.
Our Lady of Lourdes

Ochsner sent the following release:

Nearly 99 percent of Ochsner Health employees in Louisiana and Mississippi have come into compliance with the hospital system’s vaccination policy. Ochsner joins many of the nation’s leading institutions in taking this important step to protect patients, healthcare workers and our community.

“At Ochsner Health, we remain committed to prioritizing safety and minimizing risk for our co-workers, families and loved ones, and our actions during the COVID-19 pandemic reflect this promise. That’s why we are proud to announce that nearly 99 percent of Ochsner employees have come into compliance with our vaccination policy – an action that speaks to our team’s dedication and care to those we serve every day. We are truly grateful to our healthcare heroes and community members who continue to fight COVID-19,” said Warner Thomas, President and CEO, Ochsner Health.

Today, nearly 30,000 employees have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series or have an approved medical or religious exemption. Team members with approved exemptions will undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear KN95 masks for added protection.

As is the case with other health systems around the country, a small number of Ochsner employees who chose not to get vaccinated or request a medical or religious exemption – approximately 280 employees out of nearly 30,000 – will leave the organization. Of those leaving the organization, approximately 180 are PRN employees, working on an as-needed basis. Ochsner appreciates their dedication to their communities and service to the organization. Former employees in good standing will be eligible for rehire once they become compliant with this policy. While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule requiring COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers has recently been challenged, as a private employer, Ochsner Health retains the right to enact policies that protect patients and staff. Our COVID-19 vaccination policy is in line with similar policies enacted by leading health systems and employers across the country.

Ochsner Health supports continued efforts to provide accurate information about the vaccine and COVID-19 for its employees and the community at-large. For COVID-19 resources, education tools and vaccine locations, visit

The current compliance rate with Ochsner’s COVID-19 vaccine policy does not include employees in Shreveport and Monroe due to pending litigation. The Louisiana Supreme Court is set to hear the matter on December 7.

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