Last summer a reporter I had never heard of from the Portland Press Herald called me about vaccine stuff. I started with my standard, “First of all I am not anti-vaccine. I vaccinated my children and one of them got hurt...” thing. Then he interviewed me for an hour and I got to discuss all the corruption problems at length. Seemed like an OK interview. But as is the reality of our world, the hack, Joe Lawlor, turned out to be a poor man's Mnookin, and “Ginger Taylor, an anti-vaccineadvocate from Brunswick...” Cut to two weeks later and look who is sitting on a dais with Paul Offit at the National Press Club being held out as an example of exactly how to journalize right on vaccination. After writing ONE story on vaccination. (Lawler is the new Offiteer on the beat... will he soar like Seth “I hate my mother' Mnookin to teach science journalism at MIT or become he head of a media strategy group serving Eli Lilly and GSK like Trine “Cupcake” Tsouderos ... stay tuned and find out.)
There have been half a dozen propaganda pieces by Lawlor since then, all working to get people excited about the HUGE new opportunity we have to get rid of measles in Maine by restricting vaccine exemptions. Well, I mean, there hasn't been a measles case in Maine in 18 years, so we are not so much trying to get rid of Measles as much as we hope that removing the rights of parents will help us achieve negative measles in Maine. That way if we still get a few cases of measles, we can still have no measles. You have to stay hyper vigilant, you know. Measles is only a tea cup ride away.
So we had a bit of a heads up that this was coming, but we didn't know it would be national and move through the country like a blitzkrieg. But with Posey announcing the #CDCwhistleblower investigation, clearly we should have expected it.
In December I was reading yet another one of Lawlor's propaganda pieces and thought, “Where's the consumer protection?!” Then ran to my desk and whipped out a bill that I thought would give Mainer's a fighting chance of protecting and helping their vaccine injured and vulnerable kids, will full awareness that I didn't have a clue as to how to write a bill or what the hell I was doing, other than trying to fill the gaps that tens of thousands of our children had fallen into. And keep falling into every day.
Then I began step two... begging the few legislators I knew from the Ron Paul Wars of 2012 to introduce it. Lucky me, I found five of them, and they found someone else. I love Rep. Beth O'Connor, and I am not ashamed to say it.
Then this sweet boy named Michael in the legislative drafting/policy office turned my list of wants into an actual piece of legislation. It is not perfect yet, but I am kinda proud of it. (HERE Maine.gov.)
So then we began gearing up for the hearings. They were a big success for our little state. RFK Jr. rocked the room, Blaxill and Holland bestowed their brains on the committee, our moms and dads were smart and on point, and something amazing happened... they listened! They learned! You can watch the full hearings starting with this video.
I gotta stop and say this... we have all been watching how dirty and ugly the industry puppets in the various state legislatures are playing and with a few notable exceptions, the Maine Legislature has been really great. It's fair. Everyone gets to testify. The health committee for the most part listened to us and by the end were asking questions that showed me that they were getting it. The Chair of the committee is a good friend and former chair of the Ron Paul campaign in Maine who has been hearing me bitch about the vaccine program for three years and was placed in that leadership role after my bill was introduced, so I knew that no one would be playing any dirty tricks on us. His co-chair, despite being a co-sponsor on one of the the opposing bills, is also a decent guy, and the both of them were very kind to everyone who testified. The committee stayed engaged through ten hours of testimony! I am really proud of Maine and thrilled that we were smart enough to leave California to move back almost a decade ago. There are a few people in the legislature that have not been what I had hoped they would be, but there are no Pans. Thank the Lord.
The hearing for the bills to restrict vaccine rights began a 9:30am. Mid day while our people continued to testify inside, we went outside to educate the press on what we were so upset about, which can be viewed here. The hearing on our bill did not start until 6:00pm. Long, long day.
Here is a run down of what LD 1076 does:
- Require doctors to be educated on the full Vaccine Injury Compensation Table and able to properly screen for and diagnose vaccine adverse events
Add VICP and the full, and soon to be revised, vaccine injury table to the Maine Immunization Program's Provider Reference Manual
Advertise the VICP in Maine, per recommendation of the 11/14 GAO VICP report
Require a Maine State Vaccine Information Sheet for each vaccine which includes all known side effects be given to patient, per vaccine package insert, table and VICP rulings, remind patients of their right to opt out, and offer step by step instructions on what to do if a vaccine injury is suspected.
Remove the restrictions on which doctors would be able to write a medical exemption. Our understanding of vaccine adverse reactions grows as science progresses, such as our new understanding on what genetic variations will put someone at risk for a vaccine adverse event, and should not be codified into law.
Establish a vaccine injury office in Maine DHHS separate from the Immunization program that will:
Act as an ombudsman for Maine vaccine injury families and clearing house for VICP case data
Evaluate vaccine injury claims
Provide guidance and a specific process for physicians to follow when a vaccine injury is suspected by their office, or by parents and caregivers
Provide referrals to doctors who will evaluate and treat
Provide referrals to attorneys who will file in the VICP
Recoup MaineCare funds that are spent on vaccine injury cases
Establish a complaint and review process for families to ask specific vaccine questions, challenge false vaccine safety and efficacy claims as well as coercion by vaccine providers, and requires DHHS to respond and justify recommendations.
By the time testimony on our bill had started only ONE member of the opposition had stayed to testify against us, The Maine Medical Association (Maine chapter of the AMA), who had written one of the opposing bills to make families pay them for an appointment for vaccine counseling so they could rack up some of those sweet bills for the 90460 and 90461 CPT codes added in 2011. I was not surprised that no one else had decided to testify. I was actually a little surprised that the MMA had stayed to testify. I had been talking to one of our members and had theorized that none of the usual suspects would say anything about this bill, because... what could they say? Big AMA, AAP had submitted briefs to the Supreme Court lobbying them to keep their precious “Unavoidably Unsafe” status, they refused to answer questions on this disaster in the media, The AP, The GAO and American University Law were all on our side, and all the big dogs had refused to appear before ORG when Issa called the hearings on the VICP that the industry had shut down in November 2013. I figured all they could do was ignore the bill and bring in more lobbyists to convince legislators not to read the bill.
I spent that day managing the circus we brought to town, so after I testified, I had to leave to get our esteemed panelists to the Trace Amounts screening that had started an hour before. So I didn't get to hear the MMA testify, and our video cameras had run out of storage so I only got a vague description of what was said. (Maine does not record hearings) Then a few days later I found that we have a citizen super hero that records the Health Committee all the time. Thank you Andi Parkinson!
So two days after the hearings, I got the chance to watch this!
My friends, pause here, go get a large bag of non GMO pop corn and watch the Maine Chapter of the American Medical Association commit an extended 20 minute suicide on the record and on video, where their rep testifies that the committee should reject a bill to educate them on the VICP and the table of injuries, while displaying that he knows nothing about the VICP or the table of injuries.
The MMA doesn't even know what it doesn't know. Someone at the American Medical Association forgot to send a note to Maine to shut up when anyone mentions The Vaccine Act, VICP or the table.
OMG! I KNOW... RIGHT?! They want to force families to receive vaccine counseling from them, but they don't even know of the existance of the program that is THE REPOSATORY of the vaccine risk information and cases, that doctors need to be able to provide vaccine counseling. And they don't even know enough not to let people know that they don't know!
And if a doctor does not know the contraindications and potential adverse outcomes of a medical product, he is not qualified to administer it or counsel his patients on it. Period.
Craziest thing about this guys testimony is that he was IN THE ROOM when I testified, and my whole testimony was simply handing them the injury table, reading the encephalopathy dx information, and telling them that THAT was source of the autism contraversy. And he still got up and said what he said.
Seeing this piece of testimonial gold, I had to wonder, was anyone else dumb enough to submit testimony on the record? So I rushed to the Maine Legislatures web site like a kid on Christmas morning to see if anyone else might be that clueless... AND THEY WERE!!
I spent the next hour reading testimony submitted by 20 other pediatricians, nurses, and public health officials, representing every major medical agency, organization and corporation in Maine, and only ONE of the even knew the VICP existed, and they didn't even know enough not to tell the Maine Legislature that they didn't know the VICP existed. They all thought the bill was about VAERS! VAERS is never mentioned in the bill!
So I put together a break down of the testimony in OPPOSITION to LD 1076 and submitted it back to the Health Committee in OPPOSITION to LD 471 and LD 606 (that removes the philosophical exemption entirely for all adults and children). Because the MMA actually very kindly supplied us with data to not only support our bill, but to oppose the one they wrote.
The testimony submitted yesterday. Don't miss the highlights of the quotes from our medical leaders in Maine:
Additional testimony in opposition to LD 471 and LD 606
Ginger Taylor, MS, Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice, Brunswick, Maine
Maine physicians are not qualified to guide patients on vaccination
In 1986 Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Acti. The law:
- Removed all liability from the medical/pharmaceutical industry for vaccine injury and death.
- Established the Vaccine Adverse Reporting Events System (VAERS), housed at CDC, to track potential vaccine safety problems.
- Established the Vaccine Injury Compensation Programii (VICP), housed at HRSA, to compensate vaccine injury cases, which established the Vaccine Injury Table of basic vaccine injuries, and makes judgments on off table claims.
- Required an HHS prepared Vaccine Information Sheet be given to parents and patients before a vaccine is administered that notifies them of some potential adverse reactions they may experience, and of the existence of VAERS and VICPiii.
This is SUPPOSED to be the safety system to prevent, diagnose, treat and compensate vaccine injury. HOWEVER...
In the nearly 30 years since the Act was passed, the vaccine schedule has grown from 24 doses of vaccine to 70 for children today. (Appendix 1)
All investigationsiv into the VICP show that it is not properly compensating familiesv, and that it is hidden from the publicvi.
While the Maine Immunization Program Provider Reference Manualvii provides information on VAERS to doctors, NO INFORMATION ON THE VICP IS PROVIDED.
You have heard the testimony of patients and parents who have experienced serious vaccine reactions. They have reported that they were not given informed consent ahead of time, that they could not get their doctors to take their vaccine reaction claims seriously, that medical investigations of reactions and even deaths are not undertaken, that the were not told of the VICP, that they were mistreated in the VICP and that even when one claim was granted, they were abused by the VICP.
No substantive arguments have been offered yet as to why this legislation should not be enacted, on the contrary, the testimony offered on all sides of this bill support the need for its enactment.
Parents in these hearings have made the bold and difficult to believe claim that doctors are not qualified to counsel patients on the vaccine program and are ill informed. In fact, of the 21 entities that have offered testimony opposing this bill, only one shows any evidence that they read and understood the bill.
Of the 21 entities testifying in opposition to LD 1076
On whether or not they knew about or understood the VICP:
9 gave testimony that showed that they didn't understand the VICP (4 Medical Professionals Organizations, 3 Public Health Agencies, 2 Health Care Corporations)
11 gave testimony that was unclear on whether they understood the VICP or not (3 Pediatricians, 2 Medical Professional Organizations, 1 Health Care Corporation, 2 parents and 3 advocates.
1 Gave testimony that showed that she knew about the VICP, but that she believed that it “provides a swift, comprehensive alternative to litigation.” (Pediatrician representing a Health Care Corporation)
On whether or not they could differentiate VICP from VAERS:
8 confused VICP with VAERS (4 Medical Professional Organizations, 3 Public Health Agencies,and 1 Health Care Corporation.
12 did not give enough information to tell if they were confusing VICP with VAERS (1 Medical Professional Organizations, 3 Pediatricians, 3 Advocates, 2 parents and a Health Care Corporations
1 could differentiate between VICP and VAERS (Pediatrician representing a Health Care Corporation)
On their reasons for opposing the bill:
9 stated only that they were opposed to the bill, and gave no explanation as to why (3 Pediatricians, 1 Medical Professional Organization, 1 Health Care Corporation, 2 Advocates and 2 parents.)
8 reported that it was redundant to federal legislation (3 Medical Professional Organizations, 3 Public Health Officials, 2 Health Care Corporations)
1 reported that it was redundant and a scare tactic
1 reported that it was anti-vaccine (Health Educator)
1 reported that DHHS should not be encouraging malpractice claims (Medical Professional Organization)
1 reported that it would not use credible information (Health Care Corporation)
Of the 21 entities opposing the bill, only one attended the hearing.
Michaud, Maine Medical Association: When asked about VICP rulings, "I don't know. I've never been involved in that system."
Austin, Maine Hospital Association: On vaccine package inserts: "People don't receive vaccines like they do other prescriptions... not sure there is a package here."
Pelletier, Maine AAP: "The Federal Vaccine Injury Program provides appropriate venue for reporting and tracking vaccine related side effects."
Belisle, Maine Quality Counts: "Many of the components of this bill are redundant to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System and Efforts already performed by the Maine Immunization Program in collaboration with providers and physicians state wide."
Box, Maine Immunization Program/Former Asst. Dir: "Many of the components of this bill are redundant to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System and Efforts already performed by the Maine Immunization Program in collaboration with providers and physicians state wide."
Losey, Maine Immunization Program/FAAP Advisor: "LD 1076 to establish the Consumer vaccine protection program would fragment efforts to monitor and improve vaccine safety. Our state's relatively small population makes the experience much more limited and the efforts for the most part duplicate actions the us Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already involved in."
Soma, Portland Pubic Health Director: "LD 1076, which would establish a vaccine safety office in Maine, would be redundant, as one already exists at the federal level.”
Michael, EMHS: "LD 1076 proposes to refocus the public's attention away from credible public health information about the risks and benefits of immunization to establish a new governmental unit, apparently focused on promoting fear of potential injury, coercion and litigation. LD 1076 places not just children, but all Maine citizens at increased risk of illness, disability and death."
L'Heureux, American Nurses Association Maine: "the work of a vaccine consumer protection program is redundant to the scientific public health research of our Centers for Disease Control."
Westhoff, Maine Osteopathic Association: "This already exists at the federal level. It is redundant and would create a new state agency and a new level of bureaucracy that doesn't need to exist and would do little more than scare parents from getting children immunized."
Deborah Hagler, Matins Point: "...measure to create a Maine Vaccine Consumer Protection Program. However, this task is already capably handled by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program which established a no-fault compensation program for those seeing redress from injuries from vaccines. This existing federal program already provides a swift, comprehensive alternative to litigation. Adding another bureaucracy to complicate matters would only frustrate and burden the state resources and would serve no purpose."
ivCourt Heaps Grief on Vaccine Victims, Makes Them Wait Years, by The Associated Press, New York Times, December 22, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/12/22/us/politics/ap-us-vaccine-court.html?_r=2
vFixing the Flaws in the Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Peter H. Meyers, George Washington University Law School, Administrative Law Review, Vol. 63, No. 4, p. 785, 2011, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-20
viVACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION:Most Claims Took Multiple Years and Many Were Settled through Negotiation, GAO-15-142: Published: Nov 21, 2014. Publicly Released: Nov 21, 2014.
Note that one pediatrician did know what the VICP was. She is the head of the practice to which my children belog. I have been trying for many months to get them to evaluate Chandler per the encephalopathy table injury and have given them piles of research on all this, so that is how she knows. It is too late for him to be compensated, but if they could actually confirm what we believe to be true, we might be able to get insurance payments for treatment. After two appointments this year to ask them to start testing him for mito, etc, they have just stopped contacting me. Quite painful to discover last week that instead of helping my son, they have chosen to testify against the bill his mother wrote so that what happened to her son won't happen to any more kids. I am guessing I should stop waiting by the phone for them to call. (Re-activating legislative battle mode. Initiate suppression of painful emotions. Alert: Pressure has arisen to level orange. At current trajectory, estimated time of full mental and emotional collapse by 2019. Remedial action recommended.)
Can I just point out that the Maine Hospital Association is not sure that vaccine package inserts exist? Wouldn't that be something you check before you testify on it? How little to they care about vaccine safety exactly?
Also its nice to see that Belisle and Box are such good friends.
If you want the full experience of reading the medical industry in Maine proudly displaying that they don't have a clue, they are not even listening to parents or vaccine safety advocates, and they don't know how to google, you can find it all here. http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?LD=1076&snum=127
The best analogy I can think of is that it is like physicians want to mandate that families have all their children be given mental health screenings by them, the families say no, because they claim doctors don't know that the DSM exists and their education on it must be mandated, and then the doctors testify that they don't need to be educated on the DSM because they already have the Merck Manual.
ALICE IN WONDER-FREAKING-LAND.
So there is bad news here, and some painful news here, but also some very good news.
The bad news is that Maine doctors know nothing about vaccination. But we already knew that. We have been dealing with that everywhere and for decades now.
But the very GOOD NEWS is that Maine doctors and their orgs are not corrupt. They are just ignorant and lazy! They were not cunning enough not to show the State of Maine that parents are right when they claim they know more about vaccines than their doctors, but they also didn't even care enough to read the damn bill and google “Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.”
Corrupt is a non-starter, but ignorant, lazy and uncaring we can actually work with. Not that they want to work with me... they don't answer my emails, and when I walked into one of the hearing rooms late yesterday after turning in those pages, Peter Michaud gave me quite the stink eye.
This week I sent a request to the members of the health committee to ask Maine AAP and Maine AMA some pointed questions. Please review. We should have a list somewhere of all the important questions that AMA and AAP won't answer. Perhaps this is a start.
The work session on these bills is tomorrow morning. It will be fascinating to see how many of their members can finally see through the misinformation and have that A HA moment that we have all had. I know that some already have seen through the craziness, and it is a committee that really pays attention. I have watched them hold hearings on other topics since I began spending time in Augusta, and they really are combing through some of the minutia on issues in a thoughtful way. ALL of the members actually care about people who are struggling and I think to the extent that they can see that we are actually the injured parties here, and that the vaccine program is actually seriously broken If there is any hope of the truth breaking through here, I have confidence that it may be with this committee.
Even the one member, a former neurologist, who was unkind to us during the hearings, seemed to start to understand that there might be a problem here after Blaxill opened up a can on her at the end. But that is a story for another day.