TOPEKA — A controversial doctor and author has urged the Kansas legislature to ban hospitals and medical schools from getting students and employees to swear allegiance to critical race theory, affirmative action, and diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
Stanley Goldfarb, a former associate dean and professor at the University of Pennsylvania medical school, was asked to appear before the Senate and House health committees on Wednesday to explain why he formed the Do No Harm organization and to explain his perspective on how a “woke” policy agenda spread in health care.
His vision of a U.S. health care system overrun with radical ideology has been challenged by medical colleagues and has been challenged by Republican and Democratic Kansas lawmakers. Neither the House nor the Senate committees offered testimony from a witness with opinions contrary to Goldfarb.
“I’ll be blunt,” Goldfarb said. “I believe Kansas lawmakers have a great opportunity to right a terrible wrong. Not only that, you have the ability to improve the health and well-being of every Kansan, ensuring fairness and equality for all.”
Goldfarb said Kansans’ trust in medical providers has been sabotaged by activists promoting diversity in medical education, research and the health profession. She said that those willing to elevate diversity above merit in medical school admissions would produce poor health care in the United States. The adoption of socially relevant course materials and inflation of school grades have also undermined the integrity of medical schools, she said.
He said the same could be said for proponents of critical race theory, which argues that inherent racism underpinned social, economic and political inequality.
“At the root of this crusade is so-called critical race theory, a divisive ideology that has no place in health care,” Goldfarb said. “It’s even leading to racial discrimination, which activists applaud.”
Senator Beverly Gossage, a Republican from Eudora and chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, said she was pleased Goldfarb agreed to address her committee. She wrote, “Take two aspirin and call me by my pronouns: Why turning doctors into social justice warriors is destroying American medicine.”
“I’m honored to know him and his Do No Harm organization has received a lot of press,” Gossage said.
Gaps in health outcomes
Senator Mark Steffen, a Republican and Hutchinson’s physician, said attempts to indoctrinate college students extended to the University of Kansas law school, where his daughter was forced to complete a session on implicit bias. He said a “convoluted form of reasoning” has led higher education leaders to advocate for such training.
“This is permeating deep into our culture and needs to be addressed in its entirety,” Steffen said.
Democratic Senators Cindy Holscher of Overland Park and Pat Pettey of Kansas City objected to Goldfarb’s conclusions about recognizing implicit bias and avoiding the reality that poorer medical outcomes for black men and women had a racial component.
“You sounded like you were alluding to the fact that people can be biased,” Holscher said. “I didn’t quite understand what your thoughts were regarding what you do about it.”
Pettey asked Goldfarb: “Don’t you believe in the concept of social determinants of health? How would you explain the stark differences between ethnicity and race when it comes to infant and maternal health?
Goldfarb said the health disparities were related to when a person sought help during an illness, how well people adhered to treatment strategies and how much they trusted doctors. Talk of racist white doctors has only served to stoke mistrust of health care workers in minority communities, she said.
“More and more they’re being told, you know, ‘These institutions are horribly racist and we need to take the racism out of the institution,'” Goldfarb said. “There’s absolutely no evidence that anyone can point to, this is really good evidence, that you can identify disparities in health care outcomes because of how patients are treated.”
In the House Health Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Brad Boyd D-Olathe asked Goldfarb if he could explain why “would your organization support racist policies and practices?” In response, Goldfarb said that Do No Harm was not racist and sought to engage in a “real fight against” segregation in health care.
“I have to admit, I’m still confused as to why you’re here and why you’re giving this presentation,” said Representative Susan Ruiz, D-Kansas City. “What do you want from us?”
A plague of Kansas?
Goldfarb recommended that the Legislature send a bill to Governor Laura Kelly that requires medical schools to certify admissions and educational programs do not force students to attribute certain anti-racism, critical race theory, implicit bias, fairness, social determinants of health or approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Kansas law should require state contractors, grant recipients, medical schools and hospitals to certify that those same topics were not related to employee training, hiring or promotion, he said.
He said state law should require legislative approval of the change in medical school academic admissions or testing standards. State medical licensing boards must be stopped from promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, she said.
“Hopefully, you’ll consider creating that situation in Kansas where these kinds of political demands that are made of faculty and nurses and other people no longer exist,” Goldfarb said.
Goldfarb said the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office has opened an investigation into an allegation that KU School of Medicine’s urban studies program for underrepresented students violated civil rights law of the United States. She said the complaint filed by Do No Harm alleged that the medical school discriminated against applicants by offering “safe admission” to people of Native American, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Cambodian, Laotian or Vietnamese descent who completed the program academic.
“Medical schools are increasingly selecting students based on race, not merit,” Goldfarb said. “They are also hiring professors and offering tenure based on adherence to political beliefs.”
Rep. John Eplee, an Atchison Republican and physician who served on KU Medical School’s scholarly selection committee, said Goldfarb was seeking to use a national political narrative to obfuscate a program designed to improve access to the health care in Kansas.
“Have you interviewed anyone at the school?” asked Eplee.
“No, we didn’t,” Goldfarb said.
“How can you talk about lowering standards if you don’t know what they are?” said Eplee. “You are punishing us for how we behave and you don’t know what the standards are at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. I know what they are because I sat there and interviewed those students.
The civil rights complaint regarding the KU medical school was filed by Do No Harm senior colleague Mark Perry, a former University of Michigan professor and an associate of the American Enterprise Institute. He has sued 600 US colleges and universities over 1,500 alleged violations of federal law.
Earlene Gordan, supervising attorney in the civil rights division of the federal Department of Education, said the opening of an investigation “in no way implies that OCR has made a decision on the merits of the complaint.”
In Senate committee testimony, Goldfarb also denounced Kansas State University, Fort Hays State University, Wichita State University, Washburn University and Hesston College of operational health science programs committed to overcoming injustice and the social inequity.
“Clearly, Kansas higher education institutions have fully embraced the divisive and discriminatory ideology. They are putting politics ahead of educational excellence,” Goldfarb said.