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OPMC Reform
Bill status: Friday June 24-- Session ended today with three of the other OPMC bills (7753, 7755, 7756) passing the Assembly but nothing passing the Senate.

Five new bills were introduced for 2005. Since the Governor's veto of the 2004 bill, that omnibus bill language has been broken into 5 seperate bills in order to isolate the controversial sections from the primary objective of due process reform. The new DUE PROCESS bill number is S.5057/A.7757

Patient Rights ARE Physician Rights
Physician Rights ARE Patient Rights

Reform
OPMC

Senate bill 5057 / Assembly Bill 7757
Reform the Office of Professional Medical Conduct

Governor's "veto message"

Currently there is a well-spring of public protest against OPMC investigating and penalizing doctors under suspicious circumstances. Lyme patients have protested OPMC's prosecution of one side against the other in the debate over chronic Lyme disease. Other patients in the thousands from mid-state have written letters mourning the loss of their doctors when OPMC prosecutes vendettas among colleagues. Complementary and alternative physicians remain targets for harassing investigations over their genuine differences of medical opinion, despite the 1994 Law allowing non-conventional methods.

Yes it's important to protect the public from dangerous physicians, but everyone knows how jealous the profession is -- medical plots provide most of our public entertainment after murder mysteries! It stands to reason that if the policing of the medical profession is too secretive and lacks due process, then it can be used to enforce bias, suppress science, and oppress the patients of good doctors who fall out of favor with insurers or competitors.

 

What would fix the system so that both the good doctors and the bad doctors would find the justice they deserve?
The American answer to that question, since the Declaration of Independence, has been

DUE PROCESS
.

  • More timely notice to licensees of the existence and progress of investigations against them, including a type of bill of particulars so that they may prepare to mediate or settle disputes sooner in the process.
  • Consolidation of the powers and duties of the BPMC, giving the investigative committees more control over the progress of investigations that are currently controlled by OPMC staff .
  • Miranda-type notice to licensees before investigative interviews by OPMC staff.
  • Opportunity for licensees to appear before the investigative committees which may result in settlement or closure more quickly, well before an adversarial hearing begins.
  • Rules of evidence to include medical and scientific literature for defense of the practice as well as exculpatory evidence known to the OPMC.
  • Rules for discovery in relation to the qualifications/bias of experts used by both parties.
  • Empower the ARB to consider new evidence that could exonerate a convicted physician.

The legislative hearing on OPMC Process on January 31, 2002 in NYC was attended by hundreds of patients upset about the treatment of their physicians by OPMC who they alledge is depriving them of their rights by depriving them of their doctors. The legislature grilled OPMC leadership for three hours. Much testimony over the 11 hour hearing targeted HMO use of OPMC to punish doctors they just don't like.
See FAIM's written testimony

See DOH/OPMC's oral testimony transcript
See OPMC controversy in the news

See Letter from the Medical Society of the State of New York cited by the Governor in his veto of the 2004 bill (PDF download).

Email your support to the Governor! Just say that you support S.5057/7757, the OPMC Due Process bill!

Details on Specific Cases:

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Background on OPMC Reform:

The Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), part of the New York State Department of Health, investigates all reports of possible professional misconduct by of physicians. Recent prosecutions have revealed serious flaws in this physician discipline system. Despite the progress FAIM has fought to gain through the Alternative Medical Practice ACT of 1994, doctors using complementary or non-conventional therapies are still suffering in this system when their practices are challenged by OPMC.

Today, about 50 doctors in th U.S. are being investigated and persecuted for using effective alternative approaches to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Lyme Disease, Allergies, Diabetes and other complex syndromes causing pain and misery. While many of these physicians-good reputable docs--are struggling to rescue their reputations, incomes, and professional lives, their very public ordeals erode the status and practice of alternative medicine.

Other doctors who might use new or holistic therapies will instead shy away from the backlash. Welcome to the Chilling Effect: OPMC can deprive you of the treatment that could save your life. This article looks through the heroic struggle of physicians and focuses on the other casualty of this war against alternative medicine-the patients who use alternative physicians.

Horrifically distracted, the doctor of alternative therapies who is being persecuted by OPMC, is worried about accruing debt, or even going under in a legal process which gives little or no recourse but to mount a very costly defense. When that alternative provider stops treating, as do other providers offering the same treatment what happens to you?

The Flip Side of Your Right to Choose
Is Your Physician's License to Provide.

Listen to the voices of the patients whose doctors are being prosecuted by OPMC in New York. The truth of their voices may help you see how your own rights are threatened.

RE: CHARLES GANT, MD

The website of the NYS Office of Professional Medical Conduct begins its report of the Charles Gant case by listing a series of charges brought against him in highly inflammatory and misleading language. Only if you really like reading long text on computer screens would you ever get to the part where it is revealed that the charges relating to the quality of his medical care have been overturned by a OPMC hearing panel. In fact, the hearing panel upheld Dr. Gant's methodology, which relies heavily on using nutritional supplements to treat many conditions by rebalancing biochemistry, most notably, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) in children. Further, they found that, contrary to the charges, Dr. Gant had done no harm to any of his patients:

"The committee unanimously agreed that the Respondent's license should not be revoked. The record in this case established Respondent was not incompetent nor did his conduct amount to gross negligence. Nor did they find that his diagnostic or testing practices were an attempt to reap excessive financial gain. He was well versed in his type of practice and was not trying to take advantage of his patients. In mitigation of the findings of fraud, the committee notes that the use of erroneous codes was not done for the Respondent's financial benefit since his practice was one of fee for service."

See a quick update on Gant's case

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RE: JOSEPH BURRASCANO, MD

Trish M. and the "No Science" of OPMC
Trish Monsen has been taking antibiotics regularly for more than five years under the care of Dr. Burrascano. She is aware of the risks of long-term antibiotics, she says, but chooses that risk over the daily battle with painful symptoms. By the time she found Dr. Burrascano, she had all but given up. "He saved my life, he really did," Ms. Monsen said. "If it wasn't for him, I can't imagine what would have happened to me . . . I would be totally devastated if Dr. Burrascano could no longer treat me. . . .Through this whole thing, the only thing more scary than being sick was having nobody to treat me."

The Doctor:
Long Island physician Dr. Joseph Burrascano stood trial before OPMC on negligence charges for medicating some patients for extended periods of time. The charges focused on the number of weeks a patient may be prescribed antibiotics, while the "standard preferred by OPMC would limit the treatment to two to three weeks. Dr. Burrascano's patients have had good to excellent results with much longer-term treatment. In the end this truth prevailed and he won, yet the investigations of other doctors treating lyme disease continue.

The Issue:
The issue centers not only on short term recommended for antiobiotic treatment vs. the long term used by Dr. Burrascano. True, the medical community is divided on the dangers and benefits of both approaches, but the dispute should be fought out in a professional collegial manner. But further, Dr. Burascanno is a published Lyme expert who has testified before Congress, has treated 7,000 people from 42 states and 11 countries. Over sixty doctors from 10 states, and two countries have petitioned for his exoneration calling Dr. B. "an international leader in establishing comprehensive medical and ethics standards for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses." New York State's charge against him-that he mistreated nine patients-has been nullified by the patients themselves who have mobilized in his defense.

Clearly this is a distinguished scientist and healer. Moreover, OPMC only uses Lyme disease research which sees Lyme as an over-diagnosed and over-treated illness easily cured. OPMC does not appear to include a single one of the many legitimate peer reviewed scientific articles which conclude otherwise. As Monica Miller, FAIM's lobbyist points out, "The State is taking enforcement measure based on no science" in the Burrascano investigation. " It goes in the opposite direction of good science and it is an enforcement measure based on bias [against the alternative treatment approach]." In addition, insurance companies, especially HMO's, do not want to pay for these treatments and call them medically unnecessary.

See quick update on Burrascano's case
See details on the Hearing Panel's exhonoration of Dr. B

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RE: SERAFINA CORSELLO, MD

Mary Jo H. and OPMC's Stingy Testing Code
Mary Jo H. comes all the way from Delaware to New York on a regular basis to be treated by Dr. Corsello at her office in Manhattan. The prospect of Dr. Corsello's losing her license creates a nightmare of contingencies for Mary J. and her progress toward good health after many years of feeling ill. In her letter to the Chief Counsel at OPMC she asks the question: "Should you or someone dear to you be suffering from: a yeast overgrowth; unexplained brain seizures; hormonal imbalances; depression; fatigue; mercury poisoning; eczema; hair loss; anxiety attacks and hypoglycemia and not choose to accept the quick fix of prescription drugs, what right does anyone have to deny them the hope, skill and knowledge of Dr. Corsello?"

The Doctor:
Dr. Corsello has been under attack for l5 years by OPMC, having spent an enormous amount of time, energy and money to defend her practice. Some of her devoted patients have established the Corsello Patient Coalition demanding, through letter writing campaigns, that the charges be dropped. Another patient, an 80 year old holocaust survivor, has pleaded: "It would be greatly detrimental to many sick people if Dr. Corsello would not be allowed to practice. Her dedication is unquestionable . . . We need her and every physician like her desperately."

The Issue:
The preeminent accusation against Dr. Corsello by OPMC is of doing unnecessary testing- comprehensive alternative testing that saves patients' lives. Because a central tenet of alternative medicine is the sovereign power of the immune system, one of her major approaches has been to determine those toxins which are compromising a patient's natural healing powers. OPMC judgments about testing are based upon "standard medical practice" which limits the type of testing to those done by conventional doctors. In addition, insurance companies, especially HMO's, do not want to pay for these tests and call them medically unnecessary.

See update on the Corsello Case,

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RE: JENNIFER DANIELS, MD

OPMC's Fishing Expedition
Phillip P., Kathy S., and Angela R. all have various health complaints which Dr. Jennifer Daniels of Syracuse has treated successfully over the years, from Lupus to planter's warts. Their primary fear is that they will lose the power of preventive medicine that Dr. Daniels practices, for she is a true integrative physician who combines both traditional and alternative therapies. Phillip P. says that should Dr. Daniels stop practicing for good, he would not know where to turn because he has lost all trust in conventional doctors. For a decade, Kathy S. has learned the value of diet and lifestyle changes on her health, and does not want to revert back to more conventional medical approaches, such as using drugs. Virginia T, sufferng from Lupus, said "I don't take steroids. With Dr. Daniels, I use herbal preparations and diet. Frankly, [without her practice] I don't know what I would do."

The Doctor:
Dr. Jennifer Daniels is a superb example of a physician deeply enmeshed in the community in which she lives. Her activism in protecting the welfare of her Syracuse inner city has created a level of visibility for her and her practice that may have instigated opposition to her communal role as well as to her medicine. In order to defend herself against OPMC charges of negligence, she has temporarily closed her medical practice. Once again, a coalition of patients has come to her support.

The Issue:
Jennifer Daniels is being prosecuted over the treatment of a 21-year-old man whom she had treated for diabetes and allergies through a combination of dietary and conventional medicine. After 8 months of non-compliance to her treatment, he ended up in the ER and a report was submitted to OPMC citing her negligence. OPMC is clearly punishing Dr. Daniels for the patient's noncompliance after he stopped seeing her. Dr. Daniels' case is perhaps one of the most politicized investigations before the OPMC because of her community activism. In light of her almost heroic status in the her local area, and the apparent weakness of the OPMC case against her, this instance clearly demonstrates the bias of the OPMC against doctors who practice alternative medicine.

See update on the Daniels Case,

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What You Can Do to Protect Y our Rights-

The OPMC is on a rampage to slash and burn alternative medical providers in New York for doing too much testing or using medical therapies which the Federation of State Medical Boards does not approve. Meanwhile, the OPMC is exonerating other doctors who kill people (see The New York Times, "New York Surgeon Cleared of Treating Wrong Side of Brain") The patients whose doctors are threatened are telling us in their own words that without these doctors, their well-being, their health progress, in some cases their very lives are endangered.

The mission of OPMC is, according to their website, "to protect the public through the investigation of professional discipline issues involving physicians. . .," a watch-dog mandate for patient care and consumer protection. Instead, this regulatory agency has demonstrated a dangerous disregard for patient freedom of choice and a decided bias in their attempt to destroy the practitioners of alternative medicine.

You have no freedom of treatment choice
if your
doctor
has no license to provide it

The public is not served by a run-away agency with the police power to drive any doctor from the state without
DUE PROCESS!


GRASS ROOTS ACTION -- CONTACTING LAWMAKERS

At this time supporters of OPMC Reform are urged to contact:

Senator Kemp Hannon,
bill sponsor & Chairman
Senate Health Committee

District phone: 516 739 1700
Capitol phone: 518 455 2200
Hannon@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Joseph Bruno,
Senate Majority Leader


Capitol phone: 518 455-3191
email:
http://www.senatorbruno.com/send_email.asp


Governor George Pataki
Captiol public opinion phone: 518-474-8390

email:
http://161.11.3.75/

 

If you call, you will likely be asked for your zip code, provide that, and urge that the senator or the governor "Support OPMC Due Precess Reform, Senate Bill 5057"

You may want to use the emails of you wish to say more than just urging support. If you do, please keep your content brief and to the point, and be sure to add a "thank you."

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