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Archive for Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Audit of state health board ordered

January 31, 2006

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— Lawmakers on Monday ordered an audit of the state agency that regulates health care professionals, amid criticism that it took too long to sanction a Kansas City, Kan., abortion doctor.

The Legislative Division of Post Audit will review the Board of Healing Arts to determine whether it timely and thoroughly investigates complaints, conducts adequate background checks before licensing physicians, and fairly represents all professions that it regulates.

Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, said the audit was prompted by legislative dealings with the board over the past couple of years.

She said sometimes people who had lodged complaints against doctors didn't hear how their case was being handled.

"As long as they (the board) don't close an investigation, the practitioner is allowed to operate," Mast said.

Mast and other abortion opponents have criticized the Healing Arts Board for taking too long to revoke the license of Dr. Krishna Rajanna. Abortion opponents had complained about unclean and dangerous conditions at Rajanna's Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic for more than two years before the board took action last year.

Mast also said lawmakers had concerns that the board didn't follow basic regulatory standards after hearing testimony from board staff members on legislative proposals dealing with abortion clinics.

Mark Stafford, general counsel of the Healing Arts Board, said he didn't fear an audit.

"My hope is that the audit will reveal that additional resources are needed to timely and thoroughly meet everyone's expectations," Stafford said.

The board has a staff of 32 to license and regulate thousands of practitioners in 14 health care professions, according to budget documents. The board's $2.7 million budget is funded through licensure, registration and annual renewal fees.

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