A federal judge in Texas has issued a preliminary injunction, stopping a new rule from the Biden administration requiring healthcare workers to receive the COVID vaccine as the case moves through the courts.

The injunction came from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo. The case was filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of the State of Texas against Xavier Becerra, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary. 

The injunction was sought against a federal rule that would have required employers that receive Medicaid and Medicare funds—namely hospitals and other healthcare providers—to require their employees to receive a COVID vaccine as a condition of employment.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered that the federal government provide notice to all Medicaid and Medicare providers in Texas that the mandate “will not be implemented or enforced.”

“Healthcare facilities covered by the [Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services] Mandate have a tremendous reliance interest in Medicare and Medicaid funds. Therefore, Defendants unconstitutionally use Congress’s spending powers to ‘commandeer a State’s . . . administrative apparatus for federal purposes’ by conditioning Medicare and Medicaid funds on state surveyor compliance with the mandate,” wrote Kacsmaryk. “As a result, not only would the CMS Mandate prohibit Plaintiffs from enforcing its duly enacted COVID-19 vaccination regulations, but it would likely force Plaintiffs to administer a federal mandate that has a dubious statutory basis.”

“It is a ‘gun to the head’ and an unconstitutional use of Congress’s spending powers to compel Plaintiffs through ‘financial inducement’ to forgo exercising their police powers to enforce a federal statute.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who brought the suit, called it a “TEXAS WIN for employees of providers and suppliers of Medicaid and Medicare!”

As challengers to various vaccine requirements make their way through the courts, the Republican Party of Texas continues to call for a fourth special session of the Legislature to outlaw the mandates altogether.

So far, Gov. Greg Abbott has refused to do so.