On June 20, 2022, Pandemic Patients submitted testimony to the California Senate Standing Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development in support of California Assembly Bill 2098 (AB 2098). If enacted, AB 2098 would include the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation about COVID-19 in the definition of unprofessional conduct. This would include inaccurate information about “the nature and risks of COVID-19, its prevention and treatment, and the development, safety, and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.” By including this type of behavior in the definition of unprofessional conduct, California will authorize the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California to discipline physicians and surgeons who spread disinformation or misinformation about COVID-19 to their patients.
AB 2098 previously passed the California State Assembly on May, 26, 2022 and the California Senate Standing Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development will hold a hearing on AB 2098 on June 27, 2022. Pandemic Patients’ testimony in support of AB 2098 focused on the harm that has resulted from misinformation about COVID-19, including economic harm and widespread vaccine hesitancy, and how regulating the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 is necessary to bolster the government’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. However, opponents of AB 2098 criticize the legislation for abridging the First Amendment rights of health care professionals, but Pandemic Patients provides a legal analysis that demonstrates why these claims are unsupported by existing First Amendment caselaw.
Click here to read our testimony and learn more about this issue.