Senate, House invite author who asserts critical race theory fosters discrimination
TOPEKA — A controversial physician and author urged the Kansas Legislature to ban hospitals and medical schools from compelling students and employees to pledge allegiance to critical race theory, affirmative action and diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
Stanley Goldfarb, former associate dean and professor at the University of Pennsylvania medical school, was invited to appear Wednesday before Senate and House health committees to articulate why he formed the organization Do No Harm and to explain his perspective on how a “woke” political agenda spread to the health care field.
His view of a U.S. health system overrun by radical ideology has been challenged by peers in medicine and was questioned by Republican and Democratic legislators in Kansas. Neither the House nor Senate committees offered testimony from a witness with views 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 a chance to improve the health and well-being of every Kansan, while ensuring fairness and equality for all.”
Goldfarb said Kansans’ faith in medical providers was sabotaged by activists promoting diversity in medical education, research and the health care profession. He said those willing to elevate diversity above merit in medical school admissions would produce substandard health care in the United States. Adoption of socially relevant course material and class grade inflation also undermined integrity of medical schools, he said.
He said the same could be said for proponents of critical race theory, which holds that inherent racism sustained 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.”
Sen. Beverly Gossage, a Eudora Republican and chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, said she was pleased Goldfarb agreed to address her committee. He authored “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 organization Do No Harm has received a lot of press,” Gossage said.
Health outcome gaps
Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson Republican and physician, said attempts to indoctrinate college students extended to the University of Kansas law school where his daughter was compelled to complete a session on implicit bias. He said a “twisted form of reasoning” led higher education leaders to advocate such training.
“This is permeating deep into our culture and needs to be addressed in its entirety,” Steffen said.
Democratic Sens. Cindy Holscher of Overland Park and Pat Pettey of Kansas City, pushed back against Goldfarb’s conclusions on recognizing implicit bias and sidestepping the reality poorer medical outcomes for Black men and women had a racial component.
“You did seem to allude to people can have bias,” Holscher said. “I didn’t quite get what your thought was as far as what do you do about that.”
Pettey quizzed Goldfarb: “You don’t 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 health disparities were related to when a person sought care in the course of a disease, how people adhered to treatment strategies and how much they trusted physicians. Talk of racist white doctors served only to fuel distrust of health providers in minority communities, he said.
“More and more they’re being told, you know, ‘These institutions are terribly racist and we have to purge racism from the institution,’” Goldfarb said. “There’s absolutely no evidence that anybody can point to, that’s really valid evidence, that you can identify desparities in health care outcomes because of the way that patients are being treated.”
In the House health committee on Wednesday, Rep. Brad Boyd, D-Olathe, asked Goldfarb if he could explain why “your organization would advocate for racist policies and practices?” In response, Goldfarb said Do No Harm wasn’t racist and sought to engage in a “true fight against” segregation in health care.
“I have to admit that I’m still confused about why you’re here and why you’re making this presentation,” said Rep. Susan Ruiz, D-Kansas City. “What do you want from us?”
A Kansas plague?
Goldfarb recommended the Legislature send a bill to Gov. Laura Kelly requiring medical schools to certify admissions and education programs didn’t mandate students ascribe to certain anti-racism, critical race theory, implicit bias, equity, social determinants of health or approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Kansas law should compel state contractors, grant recipients, medical schools and hospitals to certify those same topics weren’t tied to training, hiring or promoting of employees, he said.
He said state law ought to require legislative approval of change in medical school academic admissions or testing standards. The state’s medical licensing boards must be blocked from promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, he said.
“We hope that you’ll consider creating that situation in Kansas where these kinds of political demands that are made on the faculty, nurses and other people no longer exist,” Goldfarb said.
Goldfarb said the U.S. Department of Education’s office of civil rights opened an inquiry into an allegation the KU School of Medicine’s urban scholar program for underrepresented students violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act. He said the complaint filed by Do No Harm alleged the medical school discriminated against applicants by offering “assured admission” to people of Native American, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Cambodian, Laotian or Vietnamese heritage who completed the scholar program.
“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 has served on the KU medical school’s scholars selection committee, said Goldfarb was trying to use a national political narrative to tarnish a program designed to improve access to health care in Kansas.
“Have you interviewed anyone from the school?” Eplee asked.
“No, we haven’t,” Goldfarb said.
“How can you talk about lowering the standards if you don’t know what they are?” Eplee said. “You’re impuning us for how we conduct ourselves and you don’t know what the standards are at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. I know what they are because I’ve sat there and I’ve interviewed those students.”
The civil rights complaint regarding the KU medical school was submitted by Do No Harm senior fellow Mark Perry, a former University of Michigan professor and associate of the American Enterprise Institute. He has challenged 600 U.S. colleges and universities for 1,500 alleged violations of federal law.
Earlene Gordan, supervising attorney in the federal Department of Education’s civil rights division, said opening an inquiry “in no way impies the OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint.”
In testimony to the Senate committee, Goldfarb also denounced Kansas State University, Fort Hays State University, Wichita State University, Washburn University and Hesston College of operating health science programs committed to overcoming social injustice and inequity.
“Clearly, Kansas’ institutions of higher learning have fully embraced divisive and discriminatory ideology. They are putting politics ahead of excellence in education,” Goldfarb said.
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