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Subject: Letter to Ed #3 - MSEHPA2184 Hwy 14
Banner, WY 82832-9709
December 5, 2001
The Sheridan Press
P.O. Box 2006
Sheridan, WY 82801
In my first two letters I commented on the reactions of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons to the "Model State Emergency Health Powers Act". Their concerns are, like those of many people, pretty thought-provoking, making us anxious to alert everyone before the state legislatures meet again.
Quotations are from the same article I mentioned in my two earlier letters. It is called "AAPS ANALYSIS (DRAFT): EMERGENCY HEALTH POWERS ACT TURNS GOVERNORS INTO DICTATORS" and can be found at http://www.aapsonline.org . Other quotes are from the Health Powers Act itself.
In the event of bioterrorism or other health emergency, property or material is to be destroyed if "there is reasonable cause to believe that it may endanger the public health." Article IV Section 401 (b). The State has to compensate the owner of any facilities that are "lawfully taken or appropriated" (Article IV Section 406), but compensation "shall be made only if private property is lawfully taken" Article VIII Section 805(a). If it is seized by an unauthorized agency, then what?
Article IV, Section 406 states, "Compensation shall not be provided for facilities or materials that are closed, evacuated, decontaminated, or destroyed when there is reasonable cause to believe that they may endanger the public health pursuant to Section 401." Like the AAPS says, this is a HUGE exception to the compensation provision!
Who determines "reasonable cause"? The public health authority, apparently. Does "reasonable cause" mean "contaminated"? The AAPS mentions the fact that the Senate Hart Office Building was contaminated with anthrax, but few would say it should be destroyed or fumigated with chemicals that would destroy its contents.
Anthrax contaminates any land on which cattle has lived, according to the late Conrad Chester of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in a lecture before the 1996 annual meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. The AAPS article goes on to say, "The same probably applies to any land that has supported sheep or goats, or any land that has had the wind deposit soil from such an area. In other words, anthrax spores are probably ubiquitous, though at a concentration that very rarely causes any harm. Such harm as was done may have been misdiagnosed by physicians who were unfamiliar with anthrax and not specifically looking for it."
Article IV, Section 402 (a) gives the public health authority the power to procure "materials and facilities" such as real estate if it is "reasonable and necessary for emergency response, with the right to take immediate possession thereof." It appears that the Act would allow the public health authority to use private property as an isolation facility. As the AAPS says, the property could then be destroyed, with the reason being that it is contaminated.
In Article III, Section 304, enforcement is provided by the "public
safety authority", who "may request assistance from the organized
militia". In Article V, Section 504 ( c ) , referring to people who
refuse vaccination or treatment, an order is "immediately enforceable by
any peace officer".
I'm sure there are many people, including a few health care providers, who are as concerned about this as I am. Our state legislators need to take a good, hard look at this emergency document and do some research or they will follow the misguided policies in this Act.
Sincerely, Susan Pearce Banner, WY