Weekly Editorial for the Houston Community Newspapers
Tyranny at the Texas Medical Board
Steven F. Hotze, MD
July 30, 2007
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) is denying physicians the constitutional right of due process, destroying their lives and the lives of the patients who rely upon them for care.
Communist regimes intimidate and silence individuals by using Star Chamber tactics cloaked in secrecy. The accusers and witnesses are anonymous, and the decisions are predetermined. This is the way the TMB investigates physicians. The TMB allows anonymous complaints by insurance companies. These anonymous complaints target physicians who oppose the insurance companies' "standards of care" which limit treatment options, deny claims and increase insurance company profits. The TMB then destroys the physicians whom the insurance companies have targeted. This is meant to teach a lesson to any physician who would dare challenge the insurance companies' policies on patient care.
It is unconscionable that the TMB would be working to advance the insurance companies' agenda at the expense of the patient-doctor relationship.
Dr. Keith Miller, a member of the TMB's Executive, Finance and Public Information Committees, also served for Blue Cross-Blue Shield on the Texas Medical Advisory Committee, which is adversarial to physicians who care more about their patients than insurance company profits. This is clearly a conflict of interest.
Dr. Miller is described by physicians and attorneys who have appeared before him as arrogant, abusive and disdainful of the patients of the physicians over whom he sits in judgment. It was Dr. Miller who presided over the Informal Hearing Settlement of Dr. William Rea.
Dr. Rea is a board certified cardiovascular surgeon who established the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Texas in 1974. Dr. Rea provides innovative treatment to patients plagued with environmental illnesses stemming from exposure and adverse reactions to chemical toxins and allergens. He has published over 135 medical journal articles and has written the definitive textbook on chemical sensitivity. Since 1974 he has served over 30,000 patients from around the world.
On October 3, 2005 Dr. Rea was informed by the TMB that an anonymous complaint had been filed against him for his treatment of five patients, all living in Manhattan and all covered by Oxford Medical Insurance. It became obvious that Oxford, an out-of-state insurer, filed the anonymous complaint to shut down Dr. Rea so that it didn't have to reimburse his patients.
When Dr. Rea's patients were informed about the anonymous complaint, they were appalled. Each wrote letters to the TMB praising Dr. Rea's treatment. Two of the patients credited him with saving their lives. As in other cases, the TMB completely disregarded the patients' testimony.
Why is the TMB doing the dirty work for a New York insurance company?
Dr. Rea presented written exoneration for his care of these patients from 18 physicians in his field. The TMB's anonymous "expert", who served as its paid hired gun and who was ignorant of environmental medicine, condemned Dr. Rea's treatment of these five patients. That's 18 experts for Dr. Rea and 1 anonymous non-expert against him.
The TMB attorney, Mark Martyn, told Dr. Rea's attorney, Steve Coke, that it did not matter what evidence Dr. Rea presented in his own behalf, "we're going to get his license." At the Informal Settlement Conference hearing on January 19, 2007, lasting less than one hour, Dr. Miller refused to consider Dr. Rea's extensive rebuttal documents and told him that he would make sure that his license was revoked.
This is the typical insurance company justice that is executed by unelected officials at the TMB in their sham reviews of physicians. This creates an intimidating and oppressive atmosphere for physicians in Texas, discouraging medical innovation and fostering mediocrity in patient care. This is all paid for with your tax dollars.
Texans deserve better. It is time for the Texas Senate to investigate the undue influence which insurance companies have on the Texas Medical Board's evaluation of physicians. Anonymous complaints, anonymous witnesses and sham reviews must be eliminated.
Dr. Steven Hotze is the founder of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Houston, Texas.
Actions You Can Take Today to Protect Your Patient-Doctor Relationship from the Insurance Companies and Their Agents on the Texas Medical Board
The Texas Medical Board is made up of 19 unelected members who are appointed by the governor. Their activities are poorly monitored. This is the first organized action to protest the TMB's unconstitutional and un-American actions which deny due process to physicians. The TMB is targeting physicians who oppose the insurance companies' standards of care which limit treatment options, deny claims and increase insurance companies' profits. It is unconscionable that the TMB would be working for the insurance companies' agenda at the expense of the patient-doctor relationship.
You should also contact your Texas State Representative and State Senator by going to www.projectfans.org and entering your zip code. This website will give you the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of your legislators in Austin.
Ask Senator Nelson to convene a Special Senate Hearing to investigate the actions of the Texas Medical Board.
Communicate to them that a) the anonymous complaint against Dr. Bill Rea should be dismissed, b) the TMB should prohibit anonymous complaints, anonymous witnesses and sham reviews of physicians, and c) you oppose the influence which insurance companies have on the actions of the TMB.
Dr. Schaller Niether Supports or Opposes the Individuals or Organizations Above