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Biden Administration Announces Sweeping New Vaccine Mandates

By: Kevin Brady, Esq.

On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced his COVID-19 Action Plan, which seeks to impose new vaccine mandates on federal employees, health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals, and private sector employees.

Federal Employees

President Biden signed an executive order which requires all federal government employees (as well as employees of contractors who do business with the federal government) to be vaccinated. Importantly, federal employees will no longer have the option to do regular testing in lieu of the vaccine. Federal employees now have 75 days to be vaccinated or they risk losing their jobs.

Healthcare Workers

The COVID-19 action plan also calls for workers in healthcare facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to be vaccinated. CMS is expected to issue the implementing rule to that effect in the coming weeks.

Private Sector Employees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to issue a rule that requires employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccinations. In the alternative, for those employees who remain unvaccinated, employers will be required to require regular testing.

The rule is also expected to require large employers to give employees paid time off to get their vaccination shots.

Impact and Potential Challenges

All together, these sweeping vaccine mandates are likely to impact almost 100 million Americans, with private sector employees making up the bulk of that number with approximately 80 million American workers.

The mandates are sure to face both legal and practical challenges. For example, within hours of the announcement, the Republican National Committee (RNC), as well as a number of state Governors, threatened to challenge the mandates in court. Further, some private employers may refuse to comply with the requirements. If that is the case, those employers are likely going to face steep financial consequences. According to white house officials, failure to comply will lead to enforcement action against those employers, which could result in "substantial fines up to nearly $14,000 per violation.”

At this time, there are still a number of unknowns. The details of the plan and the specifics regarding the practical implications for employers and health care providers are in flux until OSHA and CMS issue the implementing rules. In the meantime, health care providers, as well as private employers who employ 100 or more employees, should begin putting the processes in place to ensure compliance with the new rules. We will be sure to keep our eyes on any guidance issued in the coming weeks and as always, feel free to reach out to us at with any questions you may have.