A current Louisiana law stipulating how often minority candidates must be appointed to the state’s medical licensing board is being challenged by a nonprofit group known for opposing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in medicine.
Do No Harm, a Virginia-based advocacy group that aims to eradicate what it calls “identity politics” in medical education and clinical practice, claims a 2018 law guiding how candidates are selected for medical board positions is discriminatory. The lawsuit was filed on January 4 in Louisiana’s US Western District Court by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the nonprofit.
The lawsuit names termed out Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who recently left office. Representatives for the state’s new governor, Jeff Landry, did not respond to a Medscape request for comment.
The governor is responsible for selecting the 10 members of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, which regulates the state’s physicians and healthcare workers. Members are chosen from lists of physician nominees assembled by medical schools and other state groups.
However, Act 599 requires the governor to consider candidates’ ethnicities when making appointments from these four entities: Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center at Shreveport, LSU Health Sciences Center at New Orleans, Louisiana Hospital Association, and a consumer list of candidates without medical expertise.
Specifically, every other member appointed from the four entities must have a minority background, resulting in at least two of the seats being filled by minority candidates during the next appointment cycle, the lawsuit said.
While the legislation seemingly sought to increase the diversity of the medical board, Do No Harm alleges it permits the exclusion of nonminority candidates in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Stanley Goldfarb, MD, nephrologist and chairman of Do No Harm, said in a statement that candidates should be chosen solely on merit and expertise. “This type of discriminatory mandate is not only unconstitutional but also reflects the politicization of healthcare that is dangerous for patients and physicians,” he said.
The group, emboldened by last year’s US Supreme Court decision ending affirmative action in higher education, seeks a permanent injunction preventing the governor from enforcing the law’s racial component. In that event, Do No Harm has physicians and consumer members ready to assume board positions, the complaint said.
Do No Harm was founded in April 2022 and has more than 6100 members, including physicians, nurses, and medical students. According to their website, the organization has filed 150 discrimination complaints to the Office for Civil Rights under the US Department of Education.
The group has also sued the Medical Board of California for a state law requiring that continuing medical education courses cover implicit bias training, alleging that it violates participants’ rights to free speech. Additional lawsuits have been filed against the governor of Tennessee, the executive director of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, and the medical journal Health Affairs for using race as a factor in selecting medical board members and scholarship and fellowship recipients.
Joe Knickrehm, vice president of communications for the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), told Medscape Medical News that the organization recommends medical boards include appointees who “reflect the demographics of the state” and are “drawn from different regions…and diverse specialties.”
FSMB’s board membership policy further states that “sex, race, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, or age above majority should not preclude an individual from serving on the board.”
Steph Weber is a Midwest-based freelance journalist specializing in healthcare and law.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/louisiana-governor-sued-over-medical-board-diversity-rules-2024a10000q2?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-01-11 15:33:48
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