Recent developments at the federal level impact how employers and businesses deal with the ongoing pandemic. Last week, the Supreme Court blocked the federal mandate requiring workers employed by private businesses with 100 or more employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination series or submit weekly negative COVID tests to enter the workplace. However, the Court did uphold the federal rule requiring workers at private facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid—including non-medical personnel like janitors and volunteers—to be fully vaccinated unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption. As a large majority of healthcare facilities accept Medicare and Medicaid, most healthcare workers—regardless of the size of their employer—will need to be vaccinated in order to work.
The Supreme Court decision overturning the federal mandate does not prevent private employers from imposing vaccine mandates of their own. Employers of any size may still require their workforce to be vaccinated as long as medical and religious accommodations are made when legally required.
In other COVID-related news, the Biden administration directed private insurance companies to reimburse their insureds for up to eight at-home COVID tests a month beginning January 15, 2022. Yesterday, it also launched covidtests.gov, a website through which every U.S. household may order up to 4 free at-home COVID tests per month. According to the site, the tests will ship within 7 to 12 days after an order is placed.
As these test reimbursement and ordering initiatives are brand new, it is not yet clear how either will operate in practice, or what impact they may have on testing in the workplace. The Employment Group at Babcock & Moore will continue to monitor these and other pandemic-related legal developments closely and keep our clients up to date on any changes that may affect your workforce.