I am attempting to raise money to support myself while I work on projects related to Justice for Healthcare Professionals. I am a career mental health professional. In January 2013, after about 10 years of activism related to the regulation of psychology in Oregon, the Oregon Board of Psychology (OBOP) launched an assault upon my license to practice. They suspended my license for one year and refused my request for a stay (postponement) pending appeal. The fight against these OBOP actions took more than 4 1/2 years. The Appellate Court reversed the board's decision in April 2017 (see 284 Or App 792 (2017 ). In August 2017, I believe I set a precedent as the first psychology practitioner in Oregon to be granted attorney fees after prevailing against the psychology board. My personal fight against OBOP continues and will likely continue for a while.
I am not alone among healthcare professionals whose licenses are wrongfully challenged by their regulatory boards. In November 2016, nearly 40 physicians, psychologists, and counselors* from around the United States formed the Healthcare Alliance for Regulatory Board Reform , also known as HARBR . I am one of the leaders and founders and am a member of our three-person Executive Committee. Prompting our formation was another overturned case and the decision of several of us to allege gross and egregious malfeasance against the Department of Justice attorneys who had prosecuted the licensee. We kept one of the attorneys under investigation by the Oregon State Bar Association for 1 year, and another under investigation for 2 years before all our initial complaints were unethically dismissed. I remain the primary in pursuing this matter. We are avowed to see this matter through until justice is properly delivered.
HARBR is studying the details of non-profit status so we can raise money. We are concerned, however, about the right this would give the government to demand the names of our vulnerable members and contributors.
The destruction of lives and careers is extremely easy for most healthcare regulatory boards. As allowed in most states under Administrative Law, boards may initiate complaints, investigate complaints, and discipline licensees. Licensees have no real means of redress. Contesting allegations results in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who does not have the final independent say in the matter. The ALJ makes a proposal which the board may accept or reject. The boards tend to find in their own favor.
In Oregon, as many as 12 healthcare licensing boards - to include the Oregon Medical Board (OMB) and the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists (OBLPC&T) - have statutes which allow them to assess the costs of any hearing process in which they prevail to accused licensees. This is a motivation for the boards to extend and complicate the process and a strong incentive for the accused licensee to forgo an expensive quest for justice - especially when a win for the board can be pre-assured.
HARBR 's first goal is to educate all healthcare licensees about their risk of justice deprivation so they will know the steps to take the moment they are informed of a complaint. Early intervention is essential. Once a licensee makes a "stipulated agreement" (a "plea bargain"), they are "marked" as having had disciplinary action taken against them and this means a permanent stain on their record. They will be placed in the National Provider Data Bank, become virtually unemployable, become unlicensable in other states, and likely receive "mirror disciplines" in a network of peer reviews.
HARBR is beginning work with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) toward assuring justice for healthcare professionals. As a result of 2012's North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. the FTC, occupational regulatory boards must have a minority of voting members who are practitioners of the profession they regulate in order to have any valid state authority. This, or the board must have external and active, independent supervision by a person or body without a market interest in that profession.
HARBR is also actively working with state representatives in respective legislatures. HARBR has no interest in relieving healthcare professionals of accountability when performance interventions are called for. We simply want proportional sanctions, truly fair hearings, truly fair cost-assessments, and unless there is reason for removing a professional from practice permanently, we want good healthcare professionals returned to full function and opportunity after fairly assessed problems have been addressed. This means not only assisting licensees when their careers are assaulted by their boards, but changing regulatory statutes and administrative rules such that they are congruent, for healthcare professionals, with the protections afforded all Americans by the U.S. Constitution and the respective state constitutions.
I am asking for your assistance in making it possible for me to devote my time to HARBR and its endeavors - something which will not be possible at this point if I must spend my time seeking other sources of personal income.
I also need funding for a precedent-setting lawsuit against the Oregon Board of Psychology. Inasmuch as they don't meet the criteria for sovereign state immunity from civil suit as spelled out in NC Dental Examiners, they are in fact suable. Apparently, they need to be successfully sued before they recognize their own vulnerabilities and their need to play fair with American healthcare providers.
Funding will help me as an activist and as a HARBR leader to give our nation's good doctors, psychologists, counselors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals some room to breath. Good healthcare providers should be able to focus on their work knowing that should they ever be wrongly or frivolously accused, they will be alright.
It is my hope that those who have never had any trouble with their boards will make donations. Think of it as a bit like an insurance premium. If and when the time comes, we want to count on true justice for ourselves and our colleagues. Malpractice insurance may cover healthcare professionals if sued in civil court but it will cover very little against board actions when they know, by injustice, boards are predestined to win large sums.
Not certain of what I'm talking about? Feel free to contact me and to contact my associates about me. I can be reached at the email link provided by GoFundMe and the HARBR website can be visited at http://harbr-usa.org.
Thank you in advance for stepping up. We need to get this done.
*We are available to help ALL healthcare professionals. We assist physicians, psychologists, counselors & therapists, nurses, physician assistants, healthcare students & residents, dentists, and so forth. If you or a healthcare professional you know are being harmed unjustly by a healthcare regulatory board, a Physician's Health Program (PHP) or other healthcare authority, contact us.
Christian Wolff, MA
Psychologist Associate (Oregon) Inactive
Healthcare Alliance for Regulatory Board Reform (HARBR)
Executive Co-Director & Co-Founder
5726 Coventry Lane | Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804
Justice 4 Healthcare Professionals
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