Jeremy Henrichs, a member of the Mahomet-Seymour school board and a physician for the University of Illinois Athletic Department, was targeted by state investigators Medical Boards Hunting Down Doctors Over Mask Mandates Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked Dr. Jeremy Henrichs, a member of the Mahomet-Seymour school board and a physician for the University of Illinois Athletic Department, was targeted by state investigators due to his opposition to mandatory masks Henrichs support of optional masking led to a complaint being led, at which point the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) opened an investigation to do their due diligence An email from a medical investigator asked Henrichs for a detailed statement on your opinion about masks, and whether you support and will enforce a mask mandate based on your elected position as a school board member An attorney for Henrichs questioned whether the investigation had legal standing and suggested it was an attempt to coerce or intimidate a public ocial in the performance of his public duties The IDFPR investigation has since been called a frightening abuse of power by state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, who led a complaint in response and asked the Oce of the Executive Inspector General to investigate the case After backlash, the agency issued a letter of apology to Henrichs, backpedaling on their inquiry who said they had opened an ocial investigation due to his opposition to mandatory masks in classrooms.
The chilling governmental overreach is just the latest example of state and federal governments attempting to intimidate and silence those who question mask mandates and other ocial COVID-19 responses. Henrichs had previously voted in favor of a plan that would make mask usage optional unless infection rates rose quickly at which point mandatory masks would be reimposed. However, due to updated CDC guidelines recommending masks for all students, the state enacted a statewide school mask mandate requiring masks for all students in class. Henrichs support of optional masking led to a complaint being led, at which point the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) opened an investigation to do their due diligence. State Uses Coercion and Intimidation Tactics August 11, 2021, Henrichs received an email from a medical investigator asking for a detailed statement on your opinion about masks, and whether you support and will enforce a mask mandate based on your elected position as a school board member. This would fall under the unprofessional-conduct part of the Medical Practice Act, the email added. Its unclear at what point during the pandemic having an opinion contrary to the ocial rhetoric became reason for investigation, but were well past that point now. An attorney for Henrichs responded, questioning whether the investigation had legal standing and suggesting it was an attempt to coerce or intimidate a public ocial in the performance of his public duties. State law prohibits the intimidation of public ocials going about their ocial duties, but IDFPR investigators said they are required to investigate every complaint about a medical professional. Why Henrichs opinions on masks are open for investigation is another issue entirely. 1 2 3 4 In an email, a state investigator stated, What the medical disciplinary board wants to know is if the doctor will support and enforce the mask mandate by the governor. An IDFPR spokesperson also stated in an email, as reported by WCIA news: IDFPR takes all allegations against licensees seriously. Complaints led with the Department, as well as investigations undertaken by the Department, are condential, unless and until a public complaint or discipline is issued by the Department. If the Department determines a physician violated the Medical Practice Act, an appropriate course of action will be taken. Targeted for Questioning Mandatory Masking The IDFPR investigation has since been called a frightening abuse of power by Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, who led a complaint in response and asked the Oce of the Executive Inspector General to investigate the case. In a statement, Henrichs called the overreach a direct threat: "I have considered authoritative medical evidence that questions the necessity of mandatory masking in our schools. As a result, the IDPFR has threatened my medical licensure unless I expressly support and enforce a mask mandate for all students.
The IDPFR has commanded me to 'toe the line' or suffer personal and professional consequences.
The IDPFR's actions constitute a direct threat from the state to the well-being of my family and all board members to freely and independently exercise the duties of elected oce. Other regulatory bodies have issued similar threats and warnings attempting to silence physicians.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which regulates the practice of medicine in Ontario, is among them. In April 2021, it issued a statement prohibiting physicians from making comments or providing advice that goes against the ocial narrative. 5 6 7 According to CPSO, physicians, in isolated incidents, have been spreading blatant misinformation via social media, which is undermining public health measures meant to protect all of us. In response, they released their Statement on Public Health Misinformation on April 30, 2021, which reads: The College is aware and concerned about the increase of misinformation circulating on social media and other platforms regarding physicians who are publicly contradicting public health orders and recommendations. Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti- distancing and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19. Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations. Physicians who put the public at risk may face an investigation by the CPSO and disciplinary action, when warranted. When offering opinions, physicians must be guided by the law, regulatory standards, and the code of ethics and professional conduct.
The information shared must not be misleading or deceptive and must be supported by available evidence and science. While threatening physicians with investigation and disciplinary action should they speak out regarding the many inconsistencies and questions surrounding pandemic lockdowns, masks and COVID-19 vaccines, CPSO had the gall to add that its not intending to stie healthy public debate about how to best address aspects of the pandemic. Rather, our focus is on addressing those arguments that reject scientic evidence and seek to rouse emotions over reason, it added. IDFPR Issues Apology to Henrichs 8 9 After backlash, including Roses call for an investigation into IDFPRs actions, the agency issued a letter of apology to Henrichs, backpedaling on their inquiry. In an email to Henrichs attorney, Dina Torrisi Martin, general counsel for IDFPR, stated: The initial response to your inquiry requested information that the Department does not need. Please disregard the questions posed in the emails of August 11 and 17, 2021. On behalf of the Department, I sincerely apologize for the tone and content of those communications. I would like to provide context for the Departments approach to complaints. Pursuant to its duties under the Medical Practice Act, 225 ILCS 60, for years, the Department has generally maintained a practice of opening an investigation of every complaint it receives relating to individuals licensed by the Department. As you can understand, not every complaint requires a detailed investigation or action; however, that determination cannot be made at the time of the initial ling. Mario Treto Jr., IDFPRs secretary, also stated that a preliminary review of the complaint has concluded with the strong recommendation that the complaint be closed. In a statement, Henrichs said he appreciated the apology, but until this complaint has, in fact, formally been dismissed, he has nothing further to say at this time. State Boards Threaten Licenses, Dont Dene Misinformation A spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Jordan Abudayyeh, stated, The Pritzker administration has not and will not seek disciplinary action against the professional licenses of individuals who disagree with the mask mandate. Yet, according to a statement released by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), they absolutely could. In a news release titled, Spreading COVID-19 Misinformation May Put Medical License at Risk, FSMB stated that the dramatic increase in the dissemination of COVID-19 10 11 12 vaccine 'misinformation' and 'disinformation' by physicians and other health care professionals on social media platforms, online and in the media led to the release of their latest threat, which they called a statement: Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license. Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore have a powerful platform in society, whether they recognize it or not.
They also have an ethical and professional responsibility to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients and must share information that is factual, scientically grounded and consensus-driven for the betterment of public health. Spreading inaccurate COVID-19 vaccine information contradicts that responsibility, threatens to further erode public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk. Markedly absent from the statement is a denition of what constitutes misinformation, leaving the word wide open for interpretation. Its not only physicians that are being hunted down but also academics. Virtually anyone who speaks out about data that go against the ocial COVID propaganda can be labeled a dangerous agent of misinformation, which is what happened to Harvard epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff, who wrote a paper against lockdowns but couldnt get it published. Kulldorff and colleagues soon banded together to write the Great Barrington Declaration, which calls for focused protection of the elderly and those in nursing homes and hospitals, while allowing businesses and schools to remain open. Soon after, they too were attacked and accused of spreading misinformation and being COVID deniers. 13,14 15 16 Professor Mark Crispin Miller, who has taught classes on mass persuasion and propaganda at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development for the last two decades, is another example. After challenging students to investigate current propaganda narratives surrounding mask mandates, Miller was placed under conduct review for spreading dangerous misinformation. Miller fought back, suing 19 of his department colleagues for libel after they signed a letter to the school dean demanding a review of Millers conduct. Miller also launched a petition to New York University in support of academic freedom, free speech and free inquiry, without which he states, education will be mere training for compliance, stunting students minds instead of opening them a practice fatal to democracy, and, nally, to humanity itself. Are State Boards Maintaining Hit Lists? Jumping on the libel bandwagon, MedPage Today conducted an investigation into 20 physicians it says are spreading COVID-19 misinformation, including me, noting that not one of 20 physicians who've peddled such falsehoods has been disciplined by their state licensing agency for doing so. MedPage Today contacted 10 states that license physicians, apparently to ask them why they havent disciplined physicians for spreading undened misinformation. In Illinois, IDFPR stated that if the agency "determines a licensee committed violations against the Act that regulates their profession, an appropriate course of action will be taken. Complaints led with and investigations undertaken by IDFPR are condential, unless and until a public complaint or discipline is issued by the Department." From MedPage Todays investigation, it seems that states have put together lists of the people theyre targeting to delicense, but none has taken action against the physicians theyre accusing of spreading unidentied bad info. Perhaps thats because sharing information isnt a crime, but stiing it and engaging in unfounded threats and intimidation is. 17 18 19 20 Sources and References WCIA August 18, 2021 The News-Gazette August 20, 2021 On Sachem August 20, 2021 Twitter, CPSO, Statement on Public Health Misinformation April 30, 2021 The Center Square, IDFPR Apology Letter to Henrichs August 19, 2021 The Center Square August 20, 2021 FSMB July 29, 2021 Archive.today July 29, 2021 Great Barrington Declaration City Journal, The Panic Pandemic, Summer 2021 Corbett Report April 20, 2021 Interview 1633 Change.org, Mark Crispin Miller needs your support for academic freedom Archive.Today MedPage Today August 18, 2021 1, 2, 3, 5, 12 4 6, 7 8, 9 10 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19, 20 .
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