CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – After a public hearing recently that was videotaped and recorded by a stenographer, potentially for use in future litigation, state Rep. Richard Morrissette called for the resignation of the executive director of the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision.
Testimony and documents presented during the three and one-half hour hearing at the State Capitol on Jan. 15 “exposed the depth of the egregious behavior this state agency unleashed against Dr. Steven Anagnost,” a Tulsa orthopedic surgeon, said Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City. “The actions of the board and its executive director, Lyle Kelsey, constituted nothing less than unprecedented state-sponsored terrorism.”
The medical licensure 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.
“The board’s behavior reminded me of the Spanish Inquisition,” said Morrissette, an attorney.
Anagnost, 47, who moved to Tulsa in 1999, pioneered a minimally invasive method of performing spinal surgery on patients. Evidence presented during the hearing last Thursday (January 15) indicated that his medical practice was successful until the board launched its protracted investigation.
Morrisseete asserts the hearing uncovered the motive behind the investigation: Several members of the board, as well as some Tulsa surgeons, were envious of Anagnost: “His competitors wanted his patients, and attempted to drive him out of business to get them.”
Some members of the medical licensure board are attorneys who sued Anagnost – constituting a conflict of interest, Rep. Morrissette charged. The State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision “acted with willful and wanton disregard for due process, in an attempt to discredit the reputation of a successful surgeon.”
Evidence presented during the hearing showed that the state board contacted Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Cigna and other private insurance companies “to further their smear campaign against Dr. Anagnost,” in Morrissette's view.
None of the doctors to whom Anagnost referred patients filed any complaints against him, records show.
Among witnesses who appeared at the Jan. 15 hearing was Michael Lapolla, previously a lecturer at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s College of Public Health in Tulsa. Research data presented by Lapolla showed that Anagnost’s outcomes from his surgical procedures were superior to those of his critics, and data cited by House staff shows his success exceeded the national average.
Lapolla, who retired from OU in 2010, has been involved in state health care services, medical education and health policy research for 35 years. He was on the startup staff at the OU College of Medicine in Tulsa in 1976, and on staff at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in 2003.
A medical license is a property right, and state and federal law both protect property rights, Morrissette says. The medical licensure board “compromised its ability to conduct an impartial investigation of Dr. Anagnost,” and violated his civil and constitutional rights, Morrissette said. Kelsey should resign, Morrissette asserted, saying he intends to make such a recommendation to Governor Mary Fallin, who appoints the members of the board.
“The purpose of my hearing last Thursday was to start a discussion in the legislative branch about revamping state boards and agencies that have power over individuals who hold licenses, such as physicians, nurses, veterinarians, etc.,” Morrissette said after the hearing, in comments provided to CapitoBeatOK and other news organizations.
Morrissette is asking “anyone who might have information” pertinent to the Anagnost case is encouraged to contact him at his law office, via email firstname.lastname@example.org.