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Archive for Thursday, June 26, 2008

Arizona regulator takes Kansas job

June 26, 2008

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— An Arizona medical regulator has been picked as the next executive director of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.

Jack Confer will take the position being vacated by Larry Buening, who resigned earlier this year as head of the Kansas agency that licenses and regulates doctors.

Buening and chief counsel Mark Stafford resigned effective July 1 after legislators and others put pressure on the board to make staff changes.

Many legislators concluded the board had mishandled cases of potential misconduct by physicians including in the case of Dr. Stephen Schneider. His license wasn't suspended until a month after his indictment on 34 federal charges, and prosecutors, describing his Haysville clinic as a "pill mill," linked it to at least 56 drug overdose deaths.

Operation Rescue and Kansans for Life, two anti-abortion groups, had been watching the board for years, criticizing its oversight of doctors and reporting what it saw as problems to sympathetic legislators. Both groups sought staffing changes.

Confer has been executive director of the Arizona State Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery for three years. He also worked for other agencies, including the Arizona attorney general's office.

Confer, 42, starts July 14.

Legislators made changes during the 2008 session to give the board more authority to intervene sooner in complaints. Previously, the board couldn't take action against a doctor over a single complaint.

Confer said Tuesday that he would ask the governor and Legislature for additional staff to conduct investigations more quickly. Although the board has approved his appointment, Confer will hold the position as acting executive director pending Senate confirmation.

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