The Chiropractic Cartel Losing its Grip in Arizona - Wayne Bennett DC Losing Control of Power in State

News Staff
The Chiropractic Cartel Losing its Grip in Arizona - Wayne Bennett DC Losing Control of Power in State

"Board has failed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public"

In the heart of Arizona's legislative chambers, a storm brews around Senate Bill 1233 (SB 1233), a piece of legislation that has ignited a fierce debate among chiropractors, the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and state legislators. At the crux of this controversy lies a fundamental question: How should chiropractic care be regulated to protect patients while ensuring practitioners can operate effectively and ethically?

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According to the Arizona Chiropractic Defense Federation SB 1233 emerged in response to longstanding concerns regarding the Arizona Board of Chiropractic Examiners' handling of patient complaints and allegations of sexual misconduct. Critics argue that the Board, led by Wayne Bennet DC, has displayed a dismissive attitude towards legislative oversight and has been inefficient in its adjudication process, raising alarm bells about patient safety and practitioner accountability.

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The Senate's explanation of the need for the Bill is a shocking indictment of Bennett and the Board he leads. The Bill lays bare the Legislature's opinion of Bennett's leadership where they note:

  1. The State Board of Chiropractic Examiners has failed to uphold its duty to protect public health, safety, and welfare by not properly enforcing chiropractic practice laws as mandated by the Legislature.
  2. There is a failure to recognize the jurisdictional boundaries and overlaps with other state agencies as defined by statutes.
  3. The Board has strayed from its original legislative intent and purpose.
  4. Unwarranted and arbitrary investigations beyond the Board's legal scope are being conducted.
  5. The Board has engaged in power abuse and misappropriated public funds.
  6. The Board neglects its obligation to report evidence or allegations of criminal activities to the relevant criminal justice authorities.

Additionally, it is the Legislature's clear intent that the Board's sole function is to shield the public from potential harm, leaving other matters to either the private sector or the appropriate state agency.

The bill seeks to introduce significant reforms aimed at enhancing transparency, accountability, and the efficiency of the regulatory framework governing chiropractic practice in Arizona. Among its provisions, SB 1233 establishes concrete timeframes for the investigation, review, and decision-making processes regarding complaints—especially those concerning improper sexual conduct. This move is seen as a direct challenge to the Board's previously lax approach to high-priority matters, signaling a shift towards a more stringent regulatory stance.

Beyond the pressing issues of complaint handling and sexual misconduct, SB 1233 addresses several other areas of concern. It clarifies the regulation of business entities, stating that chiropractors owning their businesses do not need to file as a business entity with the Board—a measure aimed at reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens. Furthermore, the bill maintains the Board's authority to require licensees to complete up to twelve hours of continuing education annually, debunking claims that it would diminish professional development standards.

Billing issues, another contentious topic, are also tackled head-on. SB 1233 aims to streamline the complaint review process by limiting the Board's subpoena power over a licensee's personal finances, unless directly relevant to a complaint. This provision seeks to focus the Board's efforts on pertinent information, reducing the administrative load and potentially speeding up the resolution of complaints.

The bill has not been without its detractors, however. Wayne Bennett, the Board Chair, and Alisa Vander Veen, the Executive Director, have voiced significant concerns as the Bill strips the board of the wide expanse of powers its been used to and holds it responsible for its actions.

Bennett's fears are revealed by his belief that moving regulatory details from rules to statutes could impede the Board's "flexibility and responsiveness". Vander Veen, on the other hand, attempts to shift responsibility from her to the Attorney General warning that the bill could place the executive director in conflict with the attorney general's office, complicating legal counsel and guidance for the Board.

Responses to these concerns by the The Arizona Chiropractic Defense Federation (ACDF) have been robust, underlining the bill's intent to preserve the Board's enforcement capabilities while enhancing its operational transparency and efficiency. ACDF argues that the changes proposed by SB 1233 are necessary steps towards rectifying the Board's previous missteps and ensuring that chiropractic practice in Arizona remains in the best interests of both patients and practitioners.

The debate over SB 1233 reflects broader tensions within the chiropractic regulatory environment, where the balance between oversight and professional autonomy is often delicate and contentious. As this bill progresses through the legislative process, it serves as a pivotal case study in how states navigate the complexities of chiropractic regulation, patient protection, and professional freedom.

Dozens of organizations representing thousands of chiropractors have expressed their concerns over the ongoing use of student loan money and tax dollars being funneled through a series of private corporations that enjoy monopolies giving them complete control over the profession while stifling competition, freedom and autonomy.

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As Arizona stands on the cusp of potentially significant changes to its chiropractic regulatory framework, the discussions surrounding SB 1233 offer valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities inherent in reforming chiropractic education and regulation and the hold that the Chiropractic Cartel has over it. Whether SB 1233 will achieve its aims of enhancing patient safety, practitioner accountability, and regulatory efficiency remains to be seen. However, the debate it has sparked has revealed the dark underbelly of chiropractic regulation and the lack of freedom within chiropractic education, licensing and regulation.

As this story unfolds, it will undoubtedly provide critical lessons for other states grappling with similar issues, highlighting the intricate dance between regulation, professional practice, and patient care in the healthcare sector.

McCoy Press