The COVID pandemic revealed a great deal about the health care system and policies governing providers.
In Alabama, several key factors led to interruptions in citizens' daily lives. Instead of promoting faith over fear, many churches were forced to shut their doors in the middle of the most difficult times. Businesses were shut down for months, and hospitals were overcrowded and then understaffed.
Dr. Stewart Tankersley believes Concerned Doctors has identified 10 things that need to change in Alabama, and lawmakers are the only ones with the power over policy to make the changes happen.
1) Medical students and residents in Alabama should be required to undergo remedial training in the scientific method.
The scientific method is defined as the process of observing, asking questions and seeking answers through tests and experiments. The method has been used in science since at least the 17th century and has proven effective by requiring science to prove itself.
"Theory, investigation, discussion, and ongoing evaluation," Tankersley explained. "Given the embarrassing loss of integrity within the scientific community the past three years, we believe medical students and residents in Alabama should have remedial training on the scientific method due to the obvious dereliction of duty of those responsible for training them.
"Rather than preparing the future health leaders of our state in maintaining time-proven principles and techniques in order to protect the public at large and their patients, they have been co-opted by the radical wokeness that has captured these young people."
State Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia), a physician himself, agrees the scientific method has fallen to the wayside during the pandemic.
"The point is, science is always about questioning something," Stutts told 1819 News. "What has happened with COVID is we have stopped the debate. If you don't agree with the CDC policy, then you're just wrong. Well, how about we question the data? That's what the scientific method is all about. We have had things that make absolutely no sense."
2) State health officer needs to be appointed by the governor.
Before the COVID pandemic, the state health officer position was not on the radar of many Alabamians. For years, the appointment to the position and the power of the position was not considered. However, things changed when Dr. Scott Harris, acting under his authority as the state health officer, issued orders closing businesses and beaches and banning gatherings, including in places of worship.
"Scott Harris and his bosses at the Committee of Public Health will not allow us to dialogue, said Tankersley. "We have continuously attempted to challenge their assertions with evidence, but they refused to engage in debate. Unlike the State Officer for the state of Florida, Dr. Harris simply parrots whatever the CDC says, no matter how many times they change their minds."
The state health officer is appointed by a private group, the Medical Association for the State of Alabama (MASA). Alabama is the only state in which a private entity appoints the equivalent of the state health officer. In other states, the position is either appointed by the governor or by a board appointed by the governor.
"They, the State Health Officer and those that are his/her boss need to be accountable to the elected people," explained Tankersley. "The people that make up MASA are medical professionals."
Bills have been introduced to change the process in which the state health officer is appointed, but so far, they have not made it through the legislative process.
"Everything that the government has done has been wrong, and it's been proven time and time again that it's been wrong," Tankersley added. "If we would've had an elected health officer who is responsive to an elected official, we would have a different outcome. Just look at Florida.
Stutts said he believes another bill will be introduced in the 2023 legislative session.
3) Disband the Certificate of Need (CON) Program
Since the COVID pandemic began, the state has seen a shortage in hospital facilities and beds. With a lack of space for patients, even emergency transport services have suffered by being forced to hold patients on stretchers. Nurses and doctors have often become overwhelmed, but most importantly, patients cannot get the emergency care they need.
In Alabama, any hospital or medical clinic that wants to open, add beds or relocate has first to be approved by the CON board. Hospital officials at multiple Birmingham-area facilities have told 1819 News they have been in limbo and have had to work through the long CON process that has prevented them from getting new clinics and freestanding emergency departments built.
For years, the CON program in Alabama has been challenged. A bill was introduced last year that would have eliminated the CON review program. The bill did not pass, but Tankersley said it is imperative that the state step in as soon as possible.
"This committee is simply another means by which the big mules, like the Hospital Association, UAB, etc., stifle competition and discourage innovation," Tankersley said.
The governor appoints members to the CON board. Stutts said the members, who often have their own facilities or connections to facilities, can stave off competition.
"I think it needs to be done away with," Stutts added. "There are other states that don't have it, and we don't fare any better than they do. It's like Ronald Reagan said about abortion. He realized everyone who was for abortion had already been born. Anybody that has a CON wants to keep the process in place so they can keep everybody else from getting one."
Stutts explained that the CON program costs money for hospitals, passing those expenses down to the patient.
"Millions of dollars a year gets spent in the state paying attorneys fees, filing applications," Stutts said. "I mean, it's not just related to COVID, but COVID proved we could do without it. Every hospital in the state spends money constantly on CON-related stuff."
While Stutts hopes a new bill is introduced in the upcoming legislative session, he said it will take a lot of support to pass. However, he hopes he sees how the program can open up the potential for corrupt government action.
"It's a corrupt process," Stutts said about the CON program. "If we hadn't had a CON board, Don Siegelman wouldn't have gone to prison. If we hadn't had a CON board, Richard Scrushy wouldn't have gone to prison."
4) Look at ways pharmacists can override a doctor's order.
In Alabama, pharmacists may refuse to fill prescriptions if they believe it is not in the patient's best interest. This led to some prescriptions, such as Ivermectin, being denied during COVID. Tankersley said as a doctor, he has seen the positive effects of Ivermectin with very few adverse side effects. That's why he wants to see lawmakers act to ensure doctors can treat their patients the way they see fit.
"They can't say they know more about a medicine than I know about it for a patient," he explained. "For whatever reason, they've been able to override us on medical decisions, not on conscience … They shouldn't be able to refuse an order based on their refusal to look at the scientific evidence."
However, Stutts said he disagrees with the state being in the business of telling people what they can and cannot sell.
"I would not want to do anything to take away a pharmacist's freedom of conscience," Stutts said. "Say, the morning after abortion pill: If a pharmacist doesn't want to participate in that and fill that, that is certainly their right. You can't have it both ways. You can't say they have the freedom to refuse that but not the freedom to refuse that. Freedom is freedom."
Tankersley made it clear that he does think a pharmacist should maintain the right to reject a prescription on moral grounds but not on whether or not a medicine works for an illness.
"They are, in effect, practicing medicine when they cross this line," he said.
5) Make Ivermectin available over the counter.
As in Tennessee, Tankersley wants Ivermectin to be available over the counter, just like Advil and Tylenol.
"It is the safest prescription medication that there is," he said. "To the point, there have been over four billion doses written."
In his experience, Tankersley has never seen another medication, other than hydroxychloroquine, get such an adverse reaction while knowing it is safe and effective.
"The reason it has been attacked effectively as it has is because of the propaganda of those politically in charge," he said. Ivermectin has over 20 mechanisms of action that have been proven to affect the viral replication, inflammatory and clotting effects that can cause the problems of COVID."
6) Increase the age of consent for healthcare to 18.
Children in Alabama are allowed to make health care decisions for themselves at the age of 14. This is called the age of consent for health care, and Tankersley believes this age should be increased to 18.
"When children can make their own decisions or until they're out of their parent's home," Tankersley said. "Kids have to even get permission to get a Tylenol from the school nurse."
The issue arose during COVID when doctors realized children were offered the COVID vaccine at school, and some could get it without their parent's permission.
"If a 16-year-old is on their parent's insurance, that parent is responsible for them," Tankersley added. "The doctor can't say, 'you need this, and I am going to do something your parents don't want.' Why are they allowed to make decisions about themselves? Especially for an unproven experimental, investigational agent."
7) Add informed consent to vaccines.
Informed consent is the process in which a health care provider gives information to a patient about treatment. It can include side effects, risks and benefits of a particular treatment. With the COVID vaccine, there is no informed consent, and Tankersley said that is dangerous.
"These vaccines have no informed consent," said Tankersley. "So, here is the agent, whether it's a vaccine, here are the downsides for that agent, potentially. You are taking this knowing the potential risks of this. When you go get any medication from a pharmacist, you have to allow informed consent, but there is no informed consent for these vaccines."
8) Protect free speech laws for doctors.
In California, a new law shut down doctors' right to free speech during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two doctors filed a federal lawsuit against the state for passing the law after the Medical Board of California threatened to take away their licenses for sharing information about COVID-19. Since the doctors' information did not align with the consensus of those in charge, the doctors say they were sanctioned.
Tankersley said for Alabama, lawmakers can act to protect the free speech of doctors in Alabama.
"We want to put into law to make sure something like what happened in California never happens in Alabama," he said.
The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners & Medical Licensure Commission is responsible for medical licensing in Alabama. Tankersley said he has seen doctors in Alabama being threatened with their licenses revoked because of their statements on what they witnessed during the COVID pandemic.
"They don't want doctors to say anything against the narrative," he claimed. "Never before have I seen anything like this."
Tankersley said it is the responsibility of medical professionals to save lives, and it is irresponsible to deny the people the truth.
"It's disappointing, saddening and outrageous," he said. "It's just outrageous that we are in the situation that we are in now … This is because of who we are as a culture. We are fearful, unfaithful and unloving. We are reaping the whirlwind of that."
9) Do not allow the vaccine schedule for children to include COVID shots.
Tankersley said the COVID shot might be added to the vaccine schedule for children. This could mean that if a child did not get the shot, they would not get into public schools. Tankersley believes lawmakers should act now.
"This is an affront to the scientific method, and it's unsafe," he added.
Stutts said most times, the vaccine schedules are a recommendation. However, he said there are usually strings attached to federal dollars that make those recommendations seem necessary.
"When the federal government ties strings to a federal appropriation, it can be like, 'okay, you don't have to do that, but you're not going to get your lunch money," Stutts added.
Stutts explained that the state could stop state mandates, but lawmakers' hands are tied when it comes to federal money. However, he said common sense shows us that if a vaccine works, an individual should be protected if they get it.
"If you think the vaccine is protective for children and you get yours vaccinated, then why do you care if I get mine vaccinated or not?" he asked. "If you think it's protective, then you should think it is going to protect your children."
10) Require autopsies of healthy adults who have died suddenly following the vaccine.
When otherwise healthy adults die suddenly, Tankersley said autopsies, with the appropriate spike protein staining, should be required.
Tankersley has a unique perspective on vaccines because, in October 2020, he was the only governor-appointed member of the vaccine working group for the state. He has closely studied what the shot did to the cells of the body.
"I started going back to the fundamentals," he remembered. "It's the core thing they can't get around scientifically." The shots' mRNA causes the body to produce huge volumes of the spike protein- which has been a known toxin to the human body for over 10 years. So, why in the world would we give ourselves the code for our bodies to now produce known toxins? It's insane. Why other doctors don't know this is a dereliction of duty."
Tankersley said the "sudden adult death syndrome" is a real problem that could be connected to the widespread use of the COVID shot, and he said that it is worth looking into.
The CDC maintains the COVID vaccine is safe and effective.
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