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Kansas Senate Passed Bill Allowing Religious Exemptions & Ivermectin Use

(David Stroud/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In a late-night session running past midnight, the Kansas Senate passed a bill that would legalize the prescription of off-label COVID-19 medications like Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Known as the Off-Label Drug Bill, HB 2280 has passed by the House and Senate. It would also mandate child care facilities and K-12 public schools to accept—without inquiry or scrutiny—the religious objections of parents or guardians to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 and other illnesses.

Introduced by Sen. Mark Steffen (R-Hutchinson), the bill, part of a larger medical freedom movement across the nation, passed in a 21-16 vote and now goes before Laura Kelly, the state’s Democratic governor. Kelly—who vetoed more bills in 2021 than any KS governor since 2004—can either veto the bill or pass it with her signature. If she decides to take no action (known as a pocket veto), the state legislature can override the move by delivering a two-thirds majority vote to change the bill into law. 

Steffen, an anesthesiologist, had introduced legislation that would retroactively shield him and other health providers who prescribed Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine during the pandemic from being investigated by regulators with the Kansas Board of Healing Arts (BOHA). He maintains doctors should not be restricted in potential treatment options for patients while Kansas sees pandemic numbers associated with over 8,000 deaths and 19,000 hospitalizations. 

Under investigation by the BOHA, Steffen has been vocal with medical professionals and public health officials who have expressed reservations about alternative treatments to COVID-19. The retroactive provision included by Steffen was removed from the bill sent to the House as it was viewed as a conflict of interest. Sharing his views about restricted treatments, Steffen commented:

“Thousands of Kansans and hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because mainstream academic medicine’s shutdown of effective treatment protocols. This fearful, greedy, political, and incompetent shutdown of early treatment will be deemed a national tragedy in time.”

If passed, the Kansas bill will be more vigorous than the similar New Hampshire proposed bill because it mandates that pharmacists fill the prescriptions, removing their professional discretion to refuse to fill a prescription unless they find a reason other than the link to COVID-19. Renouncing medical authorities who warn against off-label use of Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, Steffen, who said Ivermectin is currently difficult to obtain, stated in caucus:

“Studies overwhelmingly show that Ivermectin has up to an 85% chance of reducing hospitalizations and death when given early for COVID. This is about decreasing suffering and death of the individual patient.”

“To a large degree, it’s been driven underground. In my Reno County area, I have an 80-year-old Mennonite pastor and his wife, who is a retired nurse, they’re doling it out behind the scenes to all their church members. I have other people who have gone to the veterinary for Ivermectin and dole that out to their friends. They know what they’re doing, and they do a great job with it.”

Source: Database of all Ivermectin COVID-19 studies – www.c19ivermectin.com – (constantly updated)

Sen. Richard Hilderbrand (R-Baxter Springs) said the bill was intended to “protect the right of a patient to receive an off-label prescription from their doctor” and protect the doctors from health board investigations. He remarked that, with nearly 20% of prescriptions for off-label use, complaints against doctors in his district have risen from investigations of off-label prescriptions via telemedicine. 

Additionally, Hilderbrand joined other advocates who said the Senate legislation exempting children and students enrolling in childcare facilities, preschools, daycare centers, or K-12 public schools from immunizations required by the Health Department was necessary to prevent those facilities from trampling a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Hilderbrand added, “No one will give you a litmus test. Nobody has the right to question your religion.”

The government agencies waging war against Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 have angered many doctors and health experts who see firsthand how the off-label drugs have saved lives. Supporters of medical freedom assert that the federal government has no business telling physicians what they can or cannot prescribe to their patients. They argue these agencies have no right to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. Steffen summarized the view of many, declaring:

“Thousands of Kansans and hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because mainstream academic medicine’s shutdown of effective treatment protocols. This fearful, greedy, political, and incompetent shutdown of early treatment will be deemed a national tragedy in time.”

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