Kansas GOP lawmaker seeks legal cover as he faces investigation for prescribing ivermectin for COVID-19
Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson, appears after a committee hearing Wednesday at the Statehouse in Topeka regarding his proposed legislation allowing doctors like himself to prescribe drugs for off-label use to treat COVID-19. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Sen. Mark Steffen revealed Wednesday he is under investigation for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients, accused the chief medical director of the University of Kansas Health System of spreading propaganda, and challenged him to a public debate.

Steffen, a Republican and anesthesiologist from Hutchinson, introduced legislation that would give himself and other doctors the authority to treat COVID-19 patients with ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine without fear of reprimand. He prevented Senate Bill 381 from being published until late Monday night, then complained that a hearing was postponed Tuesday morning because it gave “the media a 24-hour head start.”

About 60 individuals attended the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday to support Steffen and others who support his proposed bill. The model legislation, which also has been introduced in Tennessee, would require pharmacists to fill prescriptions for the off-label use of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, even though health authorities say the drugs are ineffective in treating COVID-19 and could be harmful. Steffen said he intends to amend a provision in the bill that would grant doctors immunity from civil liability for any damages caused by the drugs.

The bill also would overturn any disciplinary action already taken against physicians for prescribing the drugs and block future discipline. Steffen said he has prescribed ivermectin to patients and has been under investigation by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts for a year and a half.

“They clearly have no interest in resolving it,” Steffen said. “They’re using it to hold over to me to think they’re going to silence me as I serve as a state senator. And obviously, that’s not working out for them. None of it is patient-based complaints. It’s all what I’ve said in the public and what I said as a county commissioner. I stand by everything I said. And again, we’ve got board overreach that desperately needs to be put under control.”

Steffen walked away from reporters after the hearing when pressed for details about the investigation and his treatment of patients.

In remarks before the committee, Steffen referred to Steve Stites, chief medical officer of the KU Health System, as the “Fauci of Kansas.” Steffen said Stites spreads “propaganda” through his daily news briefings about COVID-19, and challenged Stites to join him in a public forum on the topic in Hays.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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