LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Wednesday that she is joining nine other state attorneys general in a lawsuit against Pres. Joe Biden’s administration’s vaccine mandate for millions of health care workers.
In the release, Rutledge argues that the vaccine requirement issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) threatens to add strain to the shortage of healthcare workers, especially in rural communities of the state that already struggling to retain employees.
“President Biden’s latest unconstitutional overreach will directly impact Arkansas’s healthcare community,” Attorney General Rutledge said.
The suit follows similar ones filed by Republican attorney generals who challenge the vaccination plan from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Under the plan, which was released on Nov. 3, workers at companies with 100 or more employees must be fully vaccinated by January 4. After this date, employees who are unvaccinated would have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test weekly.
There are more than 1,000 unfilled positions at DHS-operated healthcare facilities, according to the Arkansas Department of Human Services. DHS officials also said the CMS vaccine mandate will exacerbate the existing worker shortage and put Arkansans’ access to healthcare at risk.
The Biden administration contends that the federal rules supersede state policies banning vaccine mandates and are essential to slowing the pandemic, which has killed more than 755,000 people in the U.S.
This lawsuit contends that the CMS unprecedented vaccine mandate impacts nearly all full-time employees, part-time employees and even volunteers who usually don’t work directly with patients.
The petition for review challenging Pres. Biden’s decision was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Arkansas is joined in the challenge by the states of Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.
For more information on the challenge against the Biden Administration’s mandatory vaccination requirement, head to ArkansasAG.gov.
Associated Press content contributed to this story.