Bad Bill #H5541 - DOH

Dr. Petteruti's thoughts: regarding the proposed legislation tonight...

- This legislation will have the unintended consequence of creating a list of individuals who are opposed to having their immune status monitored.

- Although it is true that the identities will not be required to be listed, in order to “opt out,“ an individual would need to record their name thereby distinguishing them and creating a de-facto government list of dissenters.

- The legislation has the potential to further corrode trust in government and institutions, such as the Department of Health. A 2015 study from the Pew Research Center indicated that only 19% of Americans trust the federal government. The FDA and the CDC had more favorable ratings of 51%, and 71% respectively, however legislation that imposes oversight without justification is likely to be seen skeptically by a wary republic.

It is critical for societal well-being that trust in government agencies be reinforced. Whenever the government makes a “list“ of its citizens without compelling need that trust can be corroded.

- A significant minority of the population feels that the agenda of the Department of Health is to coerce individuals into getting immunizations that they do not desire. Clearly the department has the power and responsibility to impose mandatory immunizations in the face of a clear and present threat to public health. However, routinely gathering data strikes many as a gratuitous overreach of government power.

- In a 2018 survey from “wallet hub,“ Rhode Island is ranked 50th in the country for a state to practice medicine in. This disaffection with Rhode Island as a place to practice will only be made worse as more bureaucratic demands are placed on pharmacies and doctors.

- The incremental bureaucratic demands placed upon doctors have eaten into the time allotted for actual patient care. Although this legislation seems like a minor intrusion, when compounded with hundreds of other minor intrusions the doctor patient time has been eroded.

- Potential for doctors and patients to be targeted for unique scrutiny and discipline.

There is nothing in this legislation that protects doctors from discriminatory prosecution from the Department of Health.

Doctors are aware that their practices are being monitored. Many of them feel obliged to compel patients to receive treatments, such as immunizations, that conform with the prevailing “standards of care. “

Patients had been known to be discharge from pediatricians and doctors care for failure to comply to the doctors command. In many cases patients have sought out doctors who are were willing to be more supportive of their freedom of choice.

There is an active network of communication such that these patients tend to accumulate into the practices of a handful of doctors.

There is also an informal active network of communications amongst doctors.

It is almost in inevitable that a Doctor who has low levels of immunizations amongst his patients will be cited by a colleague for practicing medicine differently. It is not hard to conceive of a complaint being registered from a doctor who disagrees with the philosophy of an Physician described above. By merely placing a phone call to the Department of health and registering a concern for the quality of care provided, an investigation can be launched in the absence of specific patient concern. Such an investigation could subject a targeted doctor to subpoenas for records and discriminatory scrutiny of aspects of their practice.

This scenario is not just hypothetical, but has actually occurred. Doctors who practice medicine in a manner different from their colleagues run the risk of discriminatory prosecution. With their incredible power and latitude of judgment, the department of health will sometimes sidestep direct criticism of the practice of medicine thus avoiding the appearance of being discriminatory, and instead sight of the doctor for inadequate record keeping. Such a subjective judgment is difficult and expensive to defend.

- This legislation has not been advocating for by rank and file doctors, nor has the public at large requested that such data gathering be imposed upon them. There is a possibility of negative unintended consequences as outlined above. For all these reasons I encourage the committee to reject this bill.

RI against mandated HPV vaccine