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Federal OSHA and CMS vaccination rules impact few California dentists

California dentists must follow stricter state or county vaccination mandate

January 19, 2022 2778

Quick Summary:

The U.S. Supreme Court last week ruled to block President Biden's vaccination mandate for larger employers and to uphold another for specified workers nationwide. But both federal rules apply to very few California dental practices, which instead must comply with the stricter state or local vaccination mandate for health care workers. Those are already in effect. California dental practices also must adhere to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 ruled to block the federal OSHA mandate that would have required that larger employers nationwide ensure their workers are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing beginning this month. OSHA subsequently withdrew the standard effective Jan. 26.

Also on Jan. 13, the Supreme Court upheld the second of President Joe Biden’s mandates: the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ rule requiring nearly all workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities in 49 states be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with no option to test. Compliance timelines vary, as CMS was already implementing the rule in 25 states and territories not covered by preliminary injunctions, according to the CMS news release.

The OSHA mandate especially has been on and off again, tied up in court since details of the mandate were published in early November. 

Regardless of enforceability, both federal rules apply to very few California dental practices. 

California dental practices follow stricter Cal/OSHA, state or county vaccination mandates

Even if the court had upheld the federal OSHA rule, few California dental practices would be required to comply because the rule only applies to employers with 100 or more workers. And as CDA previously reported, private dental practices, including those that serve Medicare and Medicaid patients, are not required to comply with CMS’s vaccination rule unless they are designated as rural health centers or federally qualified health centers. 

But the federal rules do not supersede state law. California dental practices of all sizes should already be complying (as of Aug. 23, 2021) with the state’s COVID-19 vaccinate-or-test mandate for workers in high-risk settings unless they are complying with a city or county order that mandates vaccination without a weekly testing option, as is currently the case in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Berkeley also has a stricter public health order in place. 

Dental practices must comply with the most stringent regulation or guidance, whether issued by a local, state or federal agency. Cal/OSHA, as the state’s division of federal OSHA, has the authority to implement its own Emergency Temporary Standard that workplaces in California, including dental practices, must adhere to.

In addition to the state or county vaccination mandates, dental practices should be complying with Cal/OSHA’s revised COVID-19 ETS that took effect Jan. 14. Read the CDA article “New Cal/OSHA ETS return-to-work criteria in place” for details about the ETS changes. CDA resources to help dentists comply are included.