It has taken two weeks for me to write the headline for this post. Looking at it on a screen makes it more palpable for me.
The Free Clinic started operations on February 2, 2015 in order to give Colorado and Wyoming workers compensation claimants access to free expert review and medico-legal advocacy. The clinic achieved its aim of disrupting a corrupt system of secret courts, unscrupulous physicians, morally-bankrupt corporate defense firms, and a state workers compensation insurer that does not act in the public interest.
The idea of operating a free clinic staffed by a physician with actual training and credentials in occupational medicine was new to Colorado. It was the only option for patients who became ill and injured at work to be seen by a physician who understood their health interests to be his primary concern. The clinic uncovered systematic abuses in Colorado workers compensation: a CDLE settlement process that amounts to a secret court system, the classification of wage theft and unsafe working conditions as the trade secrets of Colorado employers, wholesale cost-shifting to Medicaid, lack of cooperation of DWC/CDLE with state or Federal workplace safety programs, suppression of injury cluster data by Pinnacol Assurance, and widespread unethical occupational medical practice.
On September 4, 2015 the State of Colorado closed down the Mountain West Workers Free Clinic on fabricated charges and the authors of those charges refused to formally support their claims. Dozens of ill and injured workers lost their expert support in court proceedings instantly without prospects for another physician to step in.
I really do not feel defeated and I am optimistic enough to believe that this kind of outrageous action with not stand up in the face of public and private scrutiny.
Spread the word and watch this space for updates.
Update on June 15, 2016 -- The Colorado Court of Appeals now has a case (2016CA572) that raises fundamental issues about whether the operation of independent occupational medicine practices in Colorado will be effectively eliminated by employers and workers compensation insurers. The Colorado workers compensation claimants' bar has been silent on this matter and amicus support of this claim is being provided by an out-of-state legal advocacy group.
The Program Director of the Colorado Medical Board (CMB), Karen McGovern, acting in her capacity as the liasion with that agency's contractor, the Colorado Physician's Health Program (CPHP), instructed the CPHP to report Dr. Horiagon to the Colorado Medical Board on September 3, 2015 after an angry interaction with the doctor about grossly-inappropriate and unjust handling of a dispute about an advocacy action of the Mountain West Workers Free Clinic. In turn, the CMB used this report to issue an emergency suspension order on September 4, 2015 and to seek criminal prosecutions in 2 jurisdictions on September 5, 2015. All of these actions are unprecedented in Colorado legal and regulatory history. Criminal defense investigators are now pursuing current and past members of the Colorado AG's office, including Ms. McGovern, to get their statements in advance of receiving their testimony under oath.