If you thought the ill-conceived directive from the Pharmacy Commission—which directed pharmacies to not fill prescriptions for existing drugs prescribed by medical doctors for patients the doctor wanted to treat for the Chinese coronavirus—was dreadful, wait until you hear what the Texas Medical Board (TMB) has done with an exceptionally draconian directive.

To their further discredit, the TMB has issued a directive that many physicians believe effectively shuts down all medical services to non-Chinese coronavirus patients with the very narrow exception of those services immediately necessary to save a life. Under threat of loss of license, large fines, and even jail time, physicians fear providing any other medical procedures. It would be hard to believe unless you know the sordid history of the TMB.

On March 23, 2020, the TMB issued order TRD-202001217, which effectively divided the citizens of Texas into two classes:

  • First-Class Medical Citizens – Chinese COVID-19 patients; and
  • Second-Class Medical Citizens – Everybody else.

For all practical purposes, this directive prohibited any licensed medical professional from performing any medical procedure, other than those needed by Chinese COVID-19 patients, unless it is immediately necessary to save a life or correct a serious medical condition.

To ensure strict compliance with the restrictions, the board followed up on March 24, 2020, with order TRD-202001232, which contained exceptionally stern disciplinary threats. Those threats include mandatory reporting of any physician scheduling or performing a non-urgent elective surgery or procedure.

The disciplinary threat paragraph effectively gave notice to doctors that the TMB intended to use a heavy hand on any medical professional that did anything other than treat virus patients. Physicians are understandably concerned about these directives considering the history and the board’s reputation of taking confidential complaints against physicians, disciplining a physician—sometimes even suspending a license—only to find out later that the complaint was without merit and had been made by a competitor.

As was expressed multiple times last week with several hospital administrators and doctors, this directive is leaving the vast majority of Texans in a medical services desert. Texans are now unable to receive important and much-needed health care. This lack of care will eventually have an adverse impact on the health and well-being of Texans. Some examples of the suffering second-class medical Texans are unnecessarily being forced to endure include:

  • Women needing breast cancer surgery – delayed indefinitely;
  • Removal of malignant carcinomas – delayed indefinitely;
  • Cataract removal for the elderly so they can better see and avoid falls – delayed indefinitely; and
  • Ovarian, prostate, colorectal, cervical cancer removal – delayed indefinitely.

It is difficult to even imagine the unnecessary additional emotional stress a woman with breast cancer or a man with prostate cancer will have when they are, in essence, being told that their life is not as important as someone who might contract the Chinese virus.

And what about the person who could have their pain ended and get out of a wheelchair with a simple day surgery procedure being told, “Suck it up and live with it. There might be a virus patient who may need some help”.

Based on original predictions and multiple revisions, our hospitals should have been overflowing with patients by now. The data, to date, does not support denying needed medical services to the 99.9 percent of Texans who do not have the Chinese COVID-19 virus. In fact, Chinese COVID-19 patients are occupying less than 2 percent of our hospital capacities. While every life is precious, the COVID-19 death rate has yet to even come close to the highway fatality death rate, death by heart attack, cancer, or a multitude of other causes of death.

It is now the middle of April, and we know that many models which the government depended on to make decisions were grossly wrong—some as much as 2,000 percent. The Imperial College Scientist model, which both the U.S. and Great Britain used, originally predicted 500,000 deaths for Great Britain. Once the virus became active, the prediction was revised downward to 20,000. Then, the following week, it was further revised to less than 6,000. Unfortunately, those in charge at the TMD do not seem to be able to adjust their rules to the current reality. At this point in time, it is difficult to understand why anyone would continue to place any confidence in the predictions of these models.

In a time when medical services could be at a historically high peak, this misguided TMB directive has actually caused diminished Texas medical capacity. The lack of non-COVID work has caused hospitals, clinics, and doctor offices to lay off medical personnel. There are even reports of facilities closing their doors. Makes one wonder: how did the people who issued this misguided directive earn a college degree?

So, what does this mean to the 99.9 percent of Texans who do not have the Chinese COVID virus? Unless the medical board prescribes for itself a good dose of reality and common sense, you are going to have to wait until you catch the virus if you want medical treatment anytime in the foreseeable future.

This commentary was submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to submission@texasscorecard.com.

Bob Hall

Bob Hall is the state senator for Senate District 2, which serves all of Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Rockwall, and Van Zandt counties, and portions of Dallas County.

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