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Health, Science and Environment

Healthcare providers sue Whitmer over executive orders postponing “non-essential” procedures

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Three Michigan healthcare providers are suing Governor Gretchen Whitmer over her executive order postponing “non-essential” medical procedures.

Plaintiffs argue the orders are unconstitutionally vague and put patients at risk.

The lawsuit alleges both that the state of emergency beyond April 30th has been unconstitutional and that the Governor’s specific orders postponing “non-essential” procedures have put providers on the brink of financial ruin.

Patrick Wright is an attorney representing the plaintiffs. He said the definition of what is “non-essential” is vague.

“I would prefer that we have a law that is clarified and clear to everyone so that we all know what it is, nobody has to worry about enforcement, and hopefully we get quality care being provided.”

The order remains in place, but guidance from the state has suggested the order is intended to be vague to “preserve clinical judgment” in making decisions about what procedures need to take place.

Hospital systems started conducting “time-sensitive” procedures last week, saying they are working to address the backlog of procedures paused under the Governor’s order.

Jordan Warnsholz is a plaintiff and owner of two urgent care centers. He said he doesn’t feel safe performing any potentially “non-essential” procedures.

“Frankly, I don’t trust Governor Whitmer and I’m afraid to start doing that for the fear of repercussions against me and my medical license.”

Warnsholz said he wants a formal “ok” before he’ll feel comfortable performing care that might be deemed “non-essential”.

“There is still a tremendous fear on my end and really every provider in Michigan for opening our clinics again because of what we’ve seen with Governor Whitmer. We don’t trust her. That’s simply how we feel.”

Patrick Wright, plaintiffs attorney on the case, said he doesn’t know of any healthcare providers that have seen repercussions for performing any “non-essential” procedures. But, he said, it’s about having clarity in the law.

“A government run by a frequently asked questions webpage is not the best way to go.”

A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office said they could not comment on pending litigation.