Judge weighs claim that Texas Medical Board abuses its power," reads the headline of the Austin Statesman article published following Tuesday's final arguments in AAPS vs. Texas Medical Board. The Statesman article covering this ground-breaking lawsuit continues:
"A long-running lawsuit that accuses the Texas Medical Board of abusing its power was left on Tuesday in the hands of U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who said he faces a tough decision."
Tuesday's final hearing in Courtroom 7 at the Federal Courthouse in Austin, Texas had strong attendance by AAPS members and supporters who watched as AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly presented closing arguments. The presiding Judge witnessed first-hand that physicians and patients are paying close attention. Thousands of physicians and millions of patients have been hurt by the tyrannical actions of the Texas Medical Board. Until our case blew the whistle on it.
The federal Judge is taking this case very seriously and it appears that he will begin to write a careful, detailed opinion which may take weeks to be delivered.
While the decision is being written – and we are optimistic that our strong arguments will prevail – AAPS will NOT relent in efforts to make sure the TMB's abuses against quality physicians are stopped. To build upon the hard-fought reforms AAPS members helped pass in 2011, AAPS will now push for further action to rein in the board in the 2013 Texas legislative session. In fact the Statesman reporter made special note of these efforts in her story:
"State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, sat with a group of the doctors in the courtroom and said he has written legislation this session that would require the board to tell doctors the name of the person who files a complaint against them, reveal the names of expert witnesses in cases against physicians, and require physicians who hear disciplinary cases but are not board members to disclose their financial interests."
The spotlight AAPS is shining on the Texas Medical Board has already had a positive effect on physicians' rights in Texas and in other states too, as boards across the country take notice that constitutional violations of physicians are no longer going unnoticed.
This litigation is made possible only because of the financial support of concerned physicians and patients like you. THANK YOU! Because we're not afraid to take tough stands, even when unpopular, we do not have the backing of the deep pockets of special interests like many other organizations.
We cannot continue these legal efforts without your help and the upcoming decision could be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly even the Supreme Court before a final decision is reached!
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our legal foundation AHLF that supports this litigation.
A contribution of any size would be immensely helpful as we cross the finish line in this case and also take up other cases to defend patient-centered medicine. CLICK HERE or visit AAPSonline.org/ahlf to contribute today!
We made history when we put the Texas Medical Board on trial for four days in early October, and the time for the closing arguments has arrived: 2pm on Tuesday, February 19, at the new federal courthouse at 501 West Fifth Street, Courtroom 7, in Austin, Texas. Be there!
The evening before, on Monday, February 18, we will hold a confidential briefing for you and other AAPS members at (appropriately enough) the former Cold War bunker known as the “Roundagon”, which is now the Hilton Austin Airport Hotel a short shuttle ride from the Austin airport. (Email [email protected] for details and to RSVP).
The Cold War is over, but apparently no one told the Texas Medical Board yet. Like the famous enemy soldiers in the Pacific who stayed in caves long after the war, the Texas Medical Board has been functioning like the former Kremlin long after the Berlin Wall fell.
Even one of its former officials admitted in testimony before the Texas legislature that the TMB had been acting like the “Gestapo”. And unfortunately other medical boards around the nation were following the TMB’s lead. The TMB has been disciplining physicians at FOUR TIMES the rates of comparable States.
But the abuse should end with this case, culminating Tuesday afternoon with our closing arguments, as we summarize our trial evidence of violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the First Amendment right against retaliation by the State.
Our case was the first in our Nation’s history to put a state medical board on trial, in federal court, for its violations of the constitutional rights of physicians. Thousands of physicians and millions of patients have been hurt by the tyrannical actions of the Texas Medical Board. Until our case blew the whistle on it.
Of course, litigation is not cheap. It is only through your generous support that we were able to get this far. Please support us now with a tax-deductible contribution to AHLF so that we can carry this across the finish line.
The full benefits of our case have been priceless.
Thanks to our lawsuit – with your support – there will be less intimidation of physicians. There will be fewer arbitrary revocations of licenses. There will be less retaliation against physicians who speak out.
The bullying tactics by the TMB are ending, thanks to our lawsuit. But no thanks to the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Association, which never helped physicians one bit in this case. In fact, the TMA blocked our reform legislation even though it passed the Texas House by a 147-0 vote!
Fortunately, there is one group that does stand up for practicing physicians: AAPS. We will never sell out to insurance companies, government control, coding-book sales, or other business interests. AAPS always has been, and always will be, standing up for the practice of ethical, private medicine.
Challenges abound. The violations of the U.S. Constitution by state medical boards, starting with the Texas Medical Board, are front and center on February 19 in the spotlight of the federal court in Austin. Our closing argument is historic, and you will not want to miss it. And you will not want to miss our confidential briefing the day before at the Roundagon, and our debriefing after the hearing.
At trial, our lawsuit exposed the pattern of discrimination by the TMB against physicians for improper reasons. In chilling detail, we illustrated the TMB’s pattern of constitutional violations through the compelling testimony of AAPS members who had been victimized by this.
We set forth the conflicts of interest on the TMB, which are not even properly disclosed so that its victims can even become aware of the conflicts. In one instance an order by a federal judge in our lawsuit was necessary to compel the disclosure of payments received by a Board member from an insurance company.
The TMB’s infringement on perhaps the most cherished of constitutional rights – the right to free speech – is also a focus of our case. All physicians, like all Americans, should be able to speak freely without fear of the State retaliating against them. This is land of the free, not an Orwellian society sought by some for the TMB.
Whether you can make the hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 19, our confidential briefing the day before at the “Roundagon” (Hilton Austin Airport), or our debriefing afterward, please consider making a generous, tax-deductible donation to our legal foundation AHLF that supports this litigation. $250, $500, $1000 or more would be immensely helpful as we cross the finish line in this case.
Jane Orient, M.D., AAPS Executive Dir.
P.S. An immediate tax-deductible contribution to AHLF, at AAPSonline.org/ahlf, would be tremendously helpful as we conclude our precedent-setting lawsuit. Hope to see you at our confidential briefing on Feb. 18 (RSVP to [email protected]) and in federal courtroom 7 on Feb. 19th!