Speaking in Panama City alongside newly-confirmed Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Governor Ron DeSantis showcased the ‘Free Speech of Health Care Practitioners’ bill that would protect the first amendment rights of health care workers and practitioners.
The House bill, currently stuck in committee hearings and at risk of dying in the legislature, would prohibit medical institutions or regulatory bodies from prohibiting or reprimanding medical doctors through the revocation of a license or credential for “exercising his or her constitutional right of free speech, including speech through the use of a social media platform.”
The measure was composed following a series of threats from medical societies and associations to bar doctors who they deemed to have promoted misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
“This is something that is really significant in terms of the practice of medicine… if you’re going to punish people for pursuing the truth,” said DeSantis. “They’ve moved [the bill] along, it’s not quite at the finish line, but we’re here to say let’s get it across the finish line. We want doctors to be able to practice medicine and not just genuflect to what may come out of some of these agencies.”
When it came to Covid, @GovRonDeSantis made sure there were treatment options and that those options were safe. Unlike a lot of rogue Blue states that shutdown their economies, the Governor kept the Free State of Florida open. That’s why nearly 900 people a day are moving here. pic.twitter.com/qjgPmRdAvM
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) March 3, 2022
DeSantis received support from Ladapo, who once again touted the state’s response to COVID-19. The Surgeon General has received criticism from opponents statewide over his rejection of mask mandates, though he doubled down on his past stances, claiming that the truth was “at stake with this bill.”
“It would be one thing if, when you were proven right, people would acknowledge it … These are hard to find in Florida… People across the political spectrum, including doctors, think these things are saving lives,” said Ladapo, holding a face mask. “These are not saving lives.”
DeSantis and Ladapo in late January announced significant changes to Florida’s COVID-19 guidance including pushing back on corporate masking, reducing isolation for all Floridians including those in schools and daycares, and recommending that physicians should exercise their individual clinical judgment and expertise based on their patients’ needs and preferences.