Topeka The board that regulates doctors in Kansas still wasn’t saying Wednesday why its top staff member has resigned, and even Gov. Mark Parkinson said he doesn’t know.
The State Board of Healing Arts formally accepted Jack Confer’s resignation as executive director after meeting in private for about an hour. It also voted to negotiate an agreement with Confer or his representatives that would provide pay until he finds another job.
Board member Betty McBride, of Columbus, said Confer’s departure last week from the $96,000-a-year executive director’s job was voluntary. But neither she nor other board members provided additional details.
Confer appeared to have won over critics who’d said previously that the board was too lenient with unethical or incompetent doctors. But he stepped down last week without a public explanation, and he didn’t return messages left on his cell phone Wednesday.
“I have no comment on any specific reasons,” said board Chairman Michael Beezley, a Lenexa physician. “I’m sure there is a public interest in this, but I’m trying to do the right thing and the fair thing.”
The board also met in a private, hourlong session to discuss an interim executive director. It appointed Kathleen Selzler Lippert, previously its litigation counsel, then named a four-person search committee to seek a permanent replacement for Confer.
The governor appoints the board’s 15 members, but Parkinson said during a Statehouse news conference that he hasn’t discussed Confer’s resignation with them.
“I was as surprised as anyone to read that he had resigned,” Parkinson said, “and I don’t know the reasons for it.”
The board’s decision to accept Confer’s resignation wasn’t unanimous. Board member Nancy Welsh, a Topeka physician, voted no, declining to explain why; Kimberly Templeton, a Leawood physician, abstained.
“We can’t make a decision without additional information,” Templeton said.
Confer, a former medical regulator in Arizona, accepted the Kansas job in June 2008. His predecessor, Larry Buening, resigned after the Kansas House and Senate passed separate resolutions demanding staff changes at the board.
The resolutions were partly a response to the case of Stephen Schneider, a Haysville physician who, along with his wife, was charged in a 34-count federal indictment alleging they wrongfully prescribed drugs and overbilled for medical services.
Prosecutors allege that he and his wife, a nurse, ran a “pill mill” linked to multiple overdose deaths. Both have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.