1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716-3450
Phone: (800) 635-1196
Hotline: (800) 419-4777
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto

December 2, 2001

To State, Local, and Specialty Medical Society Officers and Staff:

Under pressure from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, your state legislature will probably be considering the Model Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA), which would give the Governor unprecedented, dictatorial powers in the event that he decided to declare a "public health emergency."

Your association and your members need to be informed about the implications of this Act. It would give the Governor, in effect, the right to practice medicine and force physicians to participate in the examination and treatment of patients according to State-dictated protocol-under pain of criminal sanctions.

MEHPA is already under consideration in several States, including Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Minnesota, Illinois, and California, and many others will introduce it during the 2002 session.

Although States should assess and improve their emergency response capability, this Act has a number of extremely dangerous provisions, including:

  • Unrestricted power of the Governor to declare an emergency at his own discretion, without consulting anyone, and no right of the legislature to interfere for at least 60 days, at which time a two-thirds vote of both chambers would be needed to block the dictatorial powers;

  • The ability to take over private facilities (including hospitals and clinics) and to seize any property claimed to be needed in the emergency;

  • The right to impose rationing, quotas, quarantine, and price controls, and to control the use or transportation of any item deemed essential, under the direction of unelected political appointees acting with virtually complete immunity;

  • The authority to suspend any rule or regulation that hindered the program; and

  • The criminalization of refusal by physicians to serve or by patients to accept vaccination or treatment prescribed by the Governor or his deputies.

You can download the text of the Act at www.publichealthlaw.net, and the AAPS analysis and recommendations for action at www.aapsonline.org (click on "Emergency (Dictatorial) Powers Act").

Please let us know of your assessment and of actions that you intend to take. You may contact us by telephone at (800) 635-1196, FAX at (520) 326-3529 or (520) 325-4230, or e-mail at [email protected]. You are also invited to post your views on our forum at aaps.forums.commentary.net".

Jane M. Orient, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Executive Director