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The Emergency Health Powers Act

By Joanna Rohrback
January 6, 2003

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) finally had their wishes come true to change the actual foundation of legislation for which this country rests upon. The Homeland Security Act, the culmination of a failed nationwide attempt to get the states of the union to pass their own legislation allowing greater authority to the CDC and state health departments, now hands the authority over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Tommy Thompson. He will oversee all our states in establishing and directing a health emergency, which by the way can be merely the "potential "of a health emergency.

According to Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccination Information Center, the CDC has been salivating to get this type of legislation through for years. 1 Although the initial seeds of these changes may be seen in the Federal Health Emergency Act (FEMA) of the 70's,the pinnacle of their efforts may now have been reached through their Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA, MEHPA, or EHPA) and the Homeland Security Act (HSA). The EHPA provides opportunity for forced vaccinations of the entire public as well as other forms of medical intervention deemed necessary in a health emergency as defined by a health official, who is appointed to office. This is a threat that could be equal to or greater than a terrorist attack.

The initial problem with the CDC aiding and prompting a change in legislation is that they have definite conflicts of interest. These can be seen through the findings of Congress's Committee for Government Reform in 1999.

The Committee noted several specific problems, including:
* The CDC routinely granted waivers from conflicts of interest rules to every member of its advisory committee.
* CDC advisory committee members who were not allowed to vote on certain recommendations due to financial conflicts of interest, were allowed to actively participate in committee deliberations and advocate specific positions.
* The Chairman of the CDC's advisory committee until recently owned 600 shares of stock in Merck, a pharmaceutical company with an active vaccine division.
* Members of the CDC's advisory committee often left key details out of their financial disclosure statements, and were not required to provide the missing information by CDC ethics officials. 2

On June 15,2000, further hearings by this committee again revealed a conflict of interest with the CDC Advisory committee and the Pharmaceutical companies. 3

These conflicts still exist today, as seen in the recent hearings of this committee on Dec. 10, 2002. At these hearings, Representative Dan Burton (R.-TX) ripped the CDC and National Institute for Health (NIH) for not recalling dangerous vaccines, and for their reluctance (resistance, if you will) to act in the public's best interest4,5

What has been evident in similar situations, as in the area of accounting, when a firm like Arthur Anderson acts as the consultant and the accountant for the same client, there is a real conflict of interest. Such was the case with Arthur Anderson and Enron, where the Enron shareholder was left destitute financially. With all the posturing, there has been little reform to actually protect investors. Similarly, with respect to medical protection, little more has been done: an even more chilling threat to the public.

The CDC, like the NIH and others, will be receiving extraordinary funding under Title III (Science and Technology in support of Homeland Security) Sections.305, 306, and 307 of the HSA.6
Dr Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, was interviewed on ABC T.V. on Lateline about the control that the drug industry has taken on medical research. Most noteworthy was the following:

"It used to be that drug companies simply gave grants to academic medical centres for the use of their clinical researchers to do a study and that was it. It was at arm's length. The researcher did a study and he or she published the results, whatever those results would be. Now, it's very, very different. The drug companies increasingly design the studies. They keep the data. They don't even let the researchers see the data. They analyse the data. They decide whether they're going to even publish the data at the end of it. They sign contracts with researchers and with academic medical centres saying that they don't get to publish their work unless they get permission from the drug company. So, you can see that the distortion starts even before publication. It starts in determining what's going to be published and what isn't going to be published. This is no longer arm's length. It's treating the researchers and the academic medical centres as though they were hired guns or technicians or something. They just do the work. And the drug company will decide what the data show, what the conclusions are and whether it will even be published." 7

Certainly, if the manufacturers of the smallpox vaccines wished to determine their true safety, research would be handled much differently.

You might ask yourself how did we get from a simple proposal provided to the governors of our states for individual action on their part to extend their already existing powers for handling a state emergency, to this broadest range of power inherent in the Homeland Security Act?

Possibly the same brand of complicity that acts to corrupt the CDC may hold true of our elected officials whose jobs rest on the funding of companies like Enron and Merck. Well, I wish I could say it wasn't this simple to pass this legislation. However, it's most apparent that it was.

On October 23, 2001, the Center for Law and the Public's Health at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities completed a draft of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act. This model act was requested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was intended to give public health authorities expanded powers to respond to emergency health threats. Following November 7, the Health Privacy Project sent a letter to Professor Lawrence Gostin, Director of the Center, requesting he review the model law and its approach to protecting the privacy of the public's health information. Other civil liberties groups were simultaneously pressuring for revision on various other concerns. Then once more on December 21, the Center released a second draft of the Act. This one incorporated some of the suggestions and comments that the Center had from members of the public and private sectors. The limited changes attributed to the second draft were more superficial than substantial, however.8.

I find it striking that most states were appalled at even the second less obtrusive draft, with the exception of Florida, which lost no time signing into law SB1262 on May 23, 02, with a vote of 118/0 in the house and 34/0 in the senate. 9

In a Times-Union article that appeared only 5 days after Governor Bush Signed SB1262 into law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said they did not attend the hearings on the bill. ACLU Legislative Director Larry Spalding said he had spoken with the governor's office about the matter and said the bill appeared to have too much support. There were too many other battles he continued, including ones against public records exemptions, to put up a fight, he concluded. 10

The 16 states that had passed legislation up through the passage of HSA were Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont. But of these states only Florida passed the original draft of the MSEHPA. This includes a very broad definition of a public health emergency and unlimited access to a person' s protected health information; this original bill makes vaccinations forcible if found necessary. 11 Florida seemed anxious to be first in line for all kinds of additional state funds available for being the most obedient and "preparedness"-ready state. It is up front to receive FEMA and other aid that most other states aren't in a similar position for.12

Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have either defeated or inactivated both drafts of model legislation. The state of Wyoming defeated its version of this anti-terrorism bill in an 8-1 vote. Wyoming Legislators stated that a most objectionable aspect of the bill was a provision that gave an "incident commander" authority over everyone, including personnel and resources made available to him/her from any source. Wyoming legislators were outraged that anyone would attempt to pass a bill that would put American citizens under the authority of anyone with such dictatorial powers. 13.

"This legislation should be a concern to every American and all defenders of liberty. Elements of this legislation arguably violate the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth amendments to the Constitution. Furthermore, it treats American citizens as if they are the enemy." 14.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) ( urges that states emphasize abilities to mitigate the situation, not powers to seize, commandeer, coerce, punish, and disrupt.15.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ( recommends that all legislators seriously consider the impact of this legislation before taking immediate action. "We must take a much more deliberative approach in crafting effective policy without sacrificing the rights and liberties of individuals and families." 16.

"Doesn't common sense tell us that if vaccines really do work, those who choose to receive vaccines will not be at any risk from those who choose not to be vaccinated?" asks Dr. Wil Trebing, author of "Good-Bye Germ Theory." Trebing contends that a state of heightened fear has been used to facilitate a very questionable agenda. In a piece by him, he mentions the headline out of USA Today of 9/21/01, which stated: "Smallpox Fear Grips Nation CDC Orders 100 Million-Dose Vaccine Stockpile Untested Vaccine Will Be Mandatory During Public Health Emergencies State Militia May be Mobilized to Enforce Vaccination Policies" 17

Obviously a reason to raise many eyebrows!

As time passed and the legislation didn't pass, in most states, the CDC and our current administration found other avenues to accomplish their goals, as what was achieved in the Homeland Security Bill. Sandy Mintz outlines in her Scandals Newsletter some points of interest concerning the MSEPA. She says:
The following outlines the powers inherent in the CDC's original proposal for MSEHPA (as adopted by Florida), only superficial changes exist in the subsequent draft presented to the states.
1. Grant the governor of each state power to declare a "public health emergency" as defined in the act, with or without consulting anyone. (Article IV, Section 401)
2. Require medical examination and/or testing and force isolation or quarantine if it is deemed that refusal "poses a danger to public health". (Article VI, Section 602(c))
3. Require treatment and/or vaccination and "isolate or quarantine" those "unwilling or unable" to do so. (Article VI, (Article VI, Sections 603(a)(3) and 603(b)(3))
4. Constitute as a misdemeanor, "failure to obey these provisions" (for examination, testing, isolation or quarantine). (Article VI, Sections 604(a) and 604(c))
5. Provide that there be no liability for any "State or local official" causing harm to individuals in their efforts to comply with the provisions of the act, unless there is "gross negligence or willful misconduct". (Article VIII, Section 804(a))
6. Provide for similar absence of liability for "any private person, firm or corporation" and their "employees" or "agents". (Article VIII, Section 804(b)(2) and 804(b)(3))
7. Allow for the destruction of property without compensation if "there is reasonable cause to believe that they may endanger the public health pursuant to Section 501". (Article V, Sections 506 and 507) - (Note: "they" refers to the properties described in the act.)
8. Limit legal recourse. (Article VI, Section 605)
9. Allow for "the public safety authority (to) request assistance from the organized militia in enforcing the orders of the public health authority." (Article IV, Section 404) 18.

Now it seems however that Secretary of HHS Tommy Thompson who wouldn't take the small pox vaccine, by the way, when President Bush supposedly took his, now holds these powers regardless of individual state legislation.

Now with the easy passage of the Homeland Security Bill 11/13/02 in the House (299-121-11) and 11/19/02 in the senate 90/9, it leaves quite a few of us downright angry and many scratching our heads, still not sure what happened. 19.

Senator Robert Byrd (Dem. W.V.) stated in the Senate discussion prior to vote on the Homeland Security Bill:

And this is one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation I have seen in my 50 years. I will have been in Congress 50 years come January 3... Never have I seen such a monstrous piece of legislation sent to this body. And we are being asked to vote on that 484 pages tomorrow. Our poor staffs were up most of the night studying it. They know some of the things that are in there, but they don't know all of them. It is a sham and it is a shame. 20 But the way this bill was brought in here, less than 48 hours ago, a brand-new bill. It had not been before any committee. It had undergone no hearings, not this bill. It is a bill on our desks that has 484 pages. There are 484 pages in this bill. 21

As Ron Paul and Robert Byrd explain, and Sandy Mintz outlines, we've federalized the Emergency Health Powers, overstepping individual and state's rights in one clean sweep!

Ron Paul agrees with some of the most renowned experts in the world on smallpox in opposing mass vaccinations. Dr. Thomas Mack, whose opinions are published in New England Journal of Medicine states: "Vaccinating large numbers of staff identified by the hospitals as well as the general public is a mistake, because the deaths from vaccine complications will outweigh any limited increase in protection. Mass vaccination will guarantee a few deaths." 22

Ron Paul States: "When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we in essence accept that the state owns our bodies."

"The possibility that the federal government could order vaccines is real. Provisions buried in the 500-page homeland security bill give federal health bureaucrats virtually unchecked power to declare health emergencies. Specifically, it gives the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in my view one of the worst of all federal agencies- power to declare actual or potential bioterrorist emergencies; to administer forced "countermeasures," including vaccines, to individuals or whole groups; and to extend the emergency declaration indefinitely. These provisions mirror those found in the Model Emergency Health Powers Act, a troubling proposal that was rejected by most state legislatures last year. That Act would have given state governors broard powers to suspend civil liberties and declare health emergencies. Yet now we're giving virtually the same power to the Secretary of HHS. Equally troubling is the immunity from civil suit granted to vaccine manufacturers in the homeland security bill, which could leave individuals who get sick from a bad batch of vaccines without legal recourse." 23

This view, held by Representative Ron Paul, is also held by Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccination Information Center (NVIC) who professes: "NVIC maintains that Section 304 of the bill is fulfillment of a federal plan in development for several years to allow public health officials to force vaccination and medical treatment on Americans without their informed consent while removing all accountability from drug companies and those who participate in enforcement of the policy when harm is done." 24

She further notes that "a voluntary decision about whether to take the risk, has been the centerpiece of bioethics ever since the Nuremberg Code was adopted after World War II and the doctrine of informed consent was introduced into U.S. case law in 1957."

As the saying goes: he who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it. People tend to want to believe the best of things, human nature works that way, but blind faith is a very sharp instrument indeed!

The Patriot Act was swept into law in a similar context and fashion as the Homeland Security Act was with the inherent EHPA blended into it. The Patriot Act was also a monstrosity of paperwork passed with no public hearing or debate and no conference or committee report on Oct.26, 2001. That piece of legislation passed easily by our elected officials in the heated aftermath of 9/11, it acted as the initial blow to our civil liberties, usurping our due process rights, expanding executive powers considerably, while enhancing surveillance powers and again overriding due process rights in detention and search and seizures. Finally, to add insult to injury, it suppresses political dissent such as our right to protest this very act! Now over a year later the Homeland Security Act further invades our privacy rights to the point of even overriding our medical rights, including informed consent and our ability for recourse in damages stemming from medical intervention leading to personal injury. It continues to enhance the government's authority to seize and have surveillance of our property and detain or quarantine (detain or arrest if in violation of a quarantine or such). Well, if we've relinquished all this, what actually is there left to protect? Perhaps our minds, because they still might decide we're too powerful yet and try to microchip us for purposes of mind control! 25.


3. (October 3, 2001, Chairman Burton Requests Recall Of Childhood Vaccines with Thimerosal)


14. Id. (George Annas, Chairman, Health Law Department, Boston University School of Public Health)
15. Id.
16. Id. (Director, Health and Services, ALEC)
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21. Id.
22. (N Engl J Med. 2002;348(5):000-000 (Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD))