Is Florida Board of Chiropractic Leadership Violating Antitrust Laws?
Why would anyone be against online education? That is the question many Florida chiropractors are asking and they are demanding answers. Several thousand have signed a petition demanding that the Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine adopt a rule allowing Florida chiropractors to complete their required continuing education hours on line.
At issue in this case is much more than online continuing education as the Board is being accused of violating anti-trust laws.
Even the attorney for the Board, Deborah Louck’s, has stated on the record that the Board has the authority to adopt such a rule. Loucks, of the Florida Attorney General's Office (Pam Bondi is the current Attorney General), was the legal advisor of the FBCM at the April 8, 2016, meeting where she told the board that they could interpret that wording ("contact classroom hours") to allow online learning, just the way the Dentistry board interpreted "contact minutes of instruction" to allow for online CEs. The Board of Dentistry had made an analogous interpretation in bringing the education requirements of dentistry into the 21st century.
Rick Warner DC, has engaged attorneys to address ongoing issues regarding the Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine and online continuing education in that state. His attorneys have previously accused the chiropractic medicine board of an anti-competition stance in violation of both state and federal anti-trust statutes for which there could be both board, trade group and individual liability to those harmed. They refer to the Supreme Court Case: North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, 134 S. Ct. 1491 (2014).
The Chair of the Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine is Kevin Fogarty, DC, who also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Life University and has appointments with the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners as well as the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards.
At a Board meeting this year where the issue was being discussed Dr. Fogarty attempted to have Dr. Warner physically removed from the meeting and would no longer let him speak. Warner was even removed against his will from a “Task Force” set up to review the on line CE issue.
The Florida Chiropractic Association (FCA), and its counsel Paul Lambert, have been vehemently opposed to allowing online CE for Florida Chiropractors. According to Form 990 tax returns, over the past five years the Florida Chiropractic Association has collected $9,631,138.00 (Nearly $10 Million Dollars) from their seminars and conventions alone.
In another interesting twist to the story Florida Board Member Ruth Pelaez is the sister of Lili Montoya who runs a continuing education program in Florida called the Florida Chiropractic Conference. Some have questioned if this poses a conflict of interest for Ms. Pelaez to be voting on issues related to on line CE.
In contrast, the Florida Chiropractic Society and its President Lucas Matlock DC, have been very supportive of allowing Florida chiropractors to obtain their CE on line.
At issue in this case is much more than online continuing education.
Warren and his attorneys stated that they reviewed similar matters from other jurisdictions that address licensing boards that are controlled by market participants in the same occupation that the board regulates. It would appear that the FBCM and its anti-competition stance is in violation of both state and federal anti-trust statutes for which there could be both board, trade group and individual liability to those harmed. This was addressed in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, 134 S. Ct. 1491 (2014).
As stated previously, Kevin Fogarty, the Chairman of the Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine who serves as the Chairman of the Life University Board of Trustees, and has appointments with the FCLB and NBCE was also instrumental in recent votes by the Board regarding restrictions to applicants for licensure in Florida as well as turning over the jurisprudence exam to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
The change in the jurisprudence exam occurred even after the Department of Health advised the Board to simply get rid of the exam altogether. Making matters worse, the legislative package voted down by the board included removing the Bachelor’s degree requirement. Since foreign graduates do not earn such a credential, this hinders their ability to get licensed in the state of Florida. Life University, the chiropractic institution where Fogarty also serves as the Board Chair, offers several Bachelor degrees through its undergraduate programs.
In an email sent to supporters of the on line CE issue, Dr. Warner urged Florida chiropractors to attend the upcoming meeting of the Board where the issue is on the Agenda once again.
The meeting is being held Friday November 4th 2016 at the following
Marriott Ft. Lauderdale North
6650 N. Andrews Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309
The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m.