CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
Oklahoma City – A key panel in the state House of Representatives on Thursday (February 19) sent a bi-partisan bill to the floor. The meas was described in House staff release as “a major step forward in stopping egregious abuse done to Oklahoma physicians by the existing Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision.:
House Bill 1412 is co-authored by Rep. Jason Murphy, R-Guthrie, and Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City.
The measure secured unanimous approval in the State Government Committee.
Morrissette said, “This bill will end the days of the ‘Chamber of Horrors’, what has been the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision’s method of practice, over many years. Modeled after Kentucky’s law, the measure guarantees due process protection to physicians and protection for the public.
“Long overdue, the people and physicians of the state now will have faith in a system that oversees doctors behavior which is fair and important.
Gone will be the days of the ‘good ole’ boy’ agreements, persecution from a government agency or a system lacking in fundamental fairness.”
Many witnesses testified to the problems with the existing board. The director and members of the Medical License Board were invited to attend the hearing but did not appear. In fact, the House release noted, “nor did they respond in any manner.”
Morrissette concluded, “Make no mistake about it. The legislature and the Governor are committed to making drastic changes… this is a bi-partisan effort with support from Republican and Democratic in both the House and Senate.”
Tim Farley, writing for Red Dirt Report, has carried several stories detailing apparent abuse of powers at the Board.
Morrissette worked with members of the Republican majority to organize a January 15 hearing at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.
Testimony and documents presented during the three and one-half hour session, in Morrissette view, “exposed the depth of the egregious behavior this state agency unleashed against Dr. Steven Anagnost,” a Tulsa orthopedic surgeon. “The actions of the board and its executive director, Lyle Kelsey, constituted nothing less than unprecedented state-sponsored terrorism.”
The medical license board targeted “an eminently qualified physician” for a “taxpayer-funded smear campaign,” Morrissette said. The board’s investigation lasted five years. In a press release, Morrissette said, citing cost ledgers, the probe cost Oklahoma taxpayers of at least $700,000. However, no charges resulted, and Dr. Anagnost retains his medical license.
In addition to Red Dirt Report’s series, the controversy surrounding the board has gained attention on KOKC Radio’s “Mitchell in the Morning” program, and here on the CapitolBeatOK website.
NOTE: Editor Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.