Colorado Health Law Blog

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Dental Clinic Owners Found Guilty of $1 Million Medicaid, Tax Scheme

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 21, 2019, a federal jury found the owners of several dental clinics in Missouri guilty of a $1 million scheme to defraud the government. The owners of All About Smiles LLC, were convicted of submitting false claims to Medicaid for dentures and other services and payroll tax fraud, according to prosecutors.

Submitting False Claims.

Prosecutors alleged that the couple that owned the practice ran several schemes through the dental clinics from 2010 to 2015, including conspiring to defraud Medicaid. A main part of the scheme was to provide dentures and other services to adults who didn’t qualify for Medicaid. They would then bill the Medicaid program anyway, receiving more than $720,000, according to the DOJ.

The pair also allegedly ran a similar scheme with orthodontic equipment, racking up an estimated 241 false claims, said prosecutors. All About Smiles was paid approximately $165,700 during the the duration of the scheme.

Payroll Problems.

In addition to the fraud, the owners allegedly failed to forward payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) even though the money was withheld from employee paychecks. Instead, the married pair used the almost $195,000 to cover lavish personal expenses and make payments on a variety of vehicles, said the DOJ.

Not Smiling Anymore.

Jurors found the couple guilty on all charges detailed in a 40-count indictment accusing them of fraudulently operating three All About Smiles LLC dental clinics, said the DOJ. Additionally, their legal woes continued to stack up as each was also convicted on a count of theft of public money for collecting unemployment benefits while working.

The female owner faces up to 10 years in prison on every count besides the payroll tax conspiracy charge, which comes with a maximum penalty of five years. The husband owner could get up to a decade for obtaining unemployment benefits and five years for each additional charge, prosecutors said.

Click here to read the DOJ’s press release.

To read one of my prior blogs on a similar case about a dentist defrauding medicaid, click here.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicaid Billing Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent dentists, oral surgeons, and other health care providers in Medicaid audits, Medicare audits, insurance billing audits, ZPIC audits, RAC audits, administrative litigation and civil litigation throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in licensure complaints and investigations, DEA investigations, Medicare and Medicaid fraud investigations, audits, recovery actions and terminations from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

“All About Smiles Owners Convicted of Fraud.” Ozark Independent. (February 21, 2019). Web.
Posses, Shayna. “Couple Found Guilty Of $1M Medicaid, Payroll Tax Scheme.” Law360. (February 21, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Jury Rules in Favor of Marijuana Grow Business in Federal RICO Lawsuit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2018, a federal jury in Denver rejected claims involving the odor that was allegedly coming from a pot farm. This was a case that was being closely watched by the marijuana industry. The marijuana business had been sued for damages to neighboring property value under anti-racketeering laws.

A Closely Watched Lawsuit.

This was an important suit for the marijuana industry because it was the first federal suit brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a new blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases under RICO laws.

The couple who own and live on land adjacent to the grow facility said the facility damaged their property values because of noise and odor. Because it harmed their views, and because no one wants to live near illegal activity, they claimed damages of $1 million.

The grow facility argued during trial that it didn’t cause any odor; its odor-control system doesn’t vent outdoors.

After a short deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the marijuana grow facility and found it was not responsible for any of the alleged damages. Attorneys that represent similar marijuana facilities said proving property damages in cases like these are very difficult and hope the outcome of this case will deter others from trying the same. Click here to read more on this case.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on this case.

It is unclear to me why the Plaintiffs in this case prosecuted the case under a RICO theory since such a cause of action is usually very difficult to prove. However, I am not aware of all the facts of the case. It seems to me that a simple suit for nuisance against the marijuana grow farm would have been easier to prove and obtain an injunction on.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

Ingold, John. “Jury finds in favor of Colorado marijuana grow in closely watched federal lawsuit.” The Colorado Sun. (November 18, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2018-12-07T19:29:54+00:00December 7th, 2018|Colorado Health Law Blog|0 Comments

ECFMG Affidavit to Complete? Attending a Caribbean Medical School? Being Investigated for Irregular behavior by the ECFMG or USMLE? You need Legal Advice! Your Residency Matching Might Now Be at Issue, as Well!

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Have you recently unexpectedly received an affidavit from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG or the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat? Are you attending or have you graduated from a Caribbean medical School such as the University of Science, Art and Technology (USAT), Faculty of Medicine, in Montserrat, or the Atlantic University School of Medicine (AUSOM) in St. Lucia? Then you are probably, unknowingly, being investigated for misconduct, improprieties in your medical school attendance or other “irregular behavior.” You need to consult with a lawyer and specifically a lawyer who knows and understands the processes followed by the ECFMG and the USMLE.

Large Number of Legal Inquiries Being Received from Current Students and Graduates of USAT.

A year ago, our firm was receiving a large number of calls from students and graduates of the Atlantic University School of Medicine (AUSOM) concerning inquiries and letters they were receiving from the ECFMG and/or the USMLE. However, over the past several months, we have now received an even larger number of inquiries from students and alumni of the University of Arts, Technology and Sciences (USAT) Faculty of Medicine in Montserrat. We have now seen several different affidavits which the ECF image he has sent to students and graduates of USAT which request some very specific and detailed information about their course attendance and experience as students at USAT.

Each inquiry we have received from students and graduates of USAT has disclosed facts and circumstances that are slightly different from the other. From these we have been able to piece together a fairly comprehensive picture of what is probably going on. To summarize, it appears that you SAT is under investigation by the ECF image he for the various irregularities that our clients have disclosed have occurred in the past.

Affidavits from the ECFMG and the USMLE Should Be Taken Very Seriously. They Should Be Answered Truthfully and Must Be Returned Promptly.

The Handbook and Guidelines published by the ECFMG and the USMLE, require that any student or graduate who applies for their services must promptly respond to requests for information. This would include responding to the affidavits (which are really questionnaires to be completed under oath). Otherwise, the applicant can be charged by the ECFMG or the USMLE with “irregular behavior” in accordance with the Handbook and Guidelines that they previously agreed to follow when initially applying.

We hear from our callers, clients, and potential clients that they may have received instructions from their schools or from other sources that they do not have to do send these affidavits back in or respond to these requests for information. We do not believe that this is correct and vice. If confronted by having been sent such an inquiry or affidavit by the USEMLE or ECFMG, you should immediately contact competent, experienced, legal counsel to advise you on the exact issues and facts of the situation. You will only receive advice that takes your own personal interests into consideration from your own personal attorney; you are not likely to receive it from anyone else.

View Our Other Blogs on Our Experience with the USMLE, ECFMG, and NBME, and Hearings on “Irregular Behavior.”

Our law firm is had a great deal of experience representing students and graduates in disputes with and defending charges of “irregular behavior” against the USMLE, ECFMG and he NBME. To review a few of these please see:
What to Do If You Receive an Inquiry From the USMLE, ECFMG, or NBME
GOING TO TAKE THE USMLE STEP EXAMS? BEWARE OF ACTIONS THAT CAN BE CALLED “IRREGULAR BEHAVIOR”-PART 1, and
Accused of Irregular Behavior on the USMLE? Here’s What You Will Do Wrong.

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida’s Medical Marijuana Once Again Threatened by Unnecessary Legal Setbacks

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The resignation of Florida’s medical marijuana chief on August 17, 2018, and a series of recent court losses, has once again threatened the state’s efforts for controlled legalization of marijuana.

On August 2, 2018, a Tallahassee judge struck down the licensing structure that the state Legislature and Department of Health (DOH) enacted for medical marijuana providers. In his order, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson said the state’s imposition of a cap on the number of medical marijuana treatment centers and its requirement for vertical integration from growing to dispensing “directly contradicts” a 2016 amendment to the Florida Constitution.

“Implementing” the Law or Impeding the Law?

In 2014, the Florida Legislature took the first step toward a sane approach to marijuana by legalizing a non-euphoric strain, known as Charlotte’s Web.

In November 2016, Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution, legalizing medical marijuana, passed with 71 percent approval, its authorization for medical use. However, since that happened, state officials, state bureaucrats and the state legislature have done nothing but attempt to restrict and impede its use, ignoring the will of the people they are supposed to be serving.

The legislature passed an “implementing” law for the amendment in 2017, but the rule-making process and initial rollout has been slow and bogged down by complex litigation. To read more on the law, click here.

Attempts to artificially limit the number of growers, the number of dispensaries, and the forms that are legal to use, have all been used to impede implementation.

Such herculean efforts by state bureaucrats and legislatures, who are supposed to be carrying out the will of the citizens, is unconscionable. Even when the Florida Constitution itself requires them to preform certain duties, they just obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. Thank goodness for conscientious judges like Judge Dodson, who honor the law, follow the law, and will hopefully help enforce the law, regardless of the politics of those who chose to ignore and impede it.

This just shows that future constitutional amendments concerning the legalization of marijuana and marijuana products, and I am sure nothing less than additional constitutional amendments will be required, will need to state that they are self-implementing and no act of the state legislature or rule of any state agency is required carry it out. In fact, any such future constitutional amendment should specifically prohibit them from interfering with its implementation.

Ongoing Legal Battles.

With the recent rulings rejecting a smoking ban and saying a cancer patient can grow his own plants, experts fear that Judge Dodson’s August ruling will drastically alter the current landscape. Lawyers, who specialize in the field of marijuana law, say this ruling has the greatest potential impact of any decision to date. Additionally, banking and money issues, litigation and politics have continued to shake up the outcome.

Thanks for attorney John Morgan and other advocates who take up and challenge the attempts to fight the will of the people of Florida. During the next election, marijuana advocates should run advertisements specifically targeting those officials who enacted legislation or who attempted to enact agency rules placing obstacles to implementing the constitutional amendment.

What Outcome is Best for the State of Florida?

The state of Florida has the potential to become one of the nation’s largest markets for medical marijuana, likely worth billions of dollars. It has the third-largest population, which is growing and features a large number of elderly residents, lawyers noted. So, when it comes to medical marijuana, the question remains, “What is best for the state of Florida in the long run?”

To learn more on the status of Florida’s marijuana legalization, click here to read one of my prior blogs. Be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly for updates.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hale, Nathan. “Fla. Medical Marijuana Measure May Boost Business For Firms.” Law360. (October 25, 2016). Web.

Hale, Nathan. “Setbacks Shake Up Fla.’s Medical Marijuana Rollout.” Law360. (August 17, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana representation, marijuana attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana issues, Florida marijuana law attorney, marijuana law defense lawyer, representation for marijuana growers, representation for marijuana distributors, defense attorney for marijuana growers, defense attorney for marijuana distributors, defense lawyer for medical marijuana, decriminalization of marijuana in Florida, health law defense attorney, Florida medical cannabis representation, medical cannabis lawyer, cannabis defense lawyer, medical marijuana defense attorney, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2018-09-04T18:23:45+00:00September 17th, 2018|Marijuana Law Blog, Medical Marijuana|0 Comments

Florida Harvests It’s First Legal Medical Marijuana Crop

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On July 18, 2016, Florida harvested it’s first legal marijuana crop. The new crop is being stored in multiple vacuum-packed, 441-gram bags in a freezer on the outskirts of Tallahassee. The harvest is the result of months of careful growing, monitoring, coaxing, and finally cultivating, scores of plants in a hidden farm overseen by horticulturalists and protected by armed guards. It is unknown which security company, if any, is providing security or if it approaches the security of Fort Knox.

This is one of two production facilities operated by Surterra Therapeutics, the first of six companies to win state approval to grow and harvest medical marijuana for the seriously ill and dying.

Charlotte’s Web.

In 2014, Florida adopted laws to allow two types of medical marijuana: non-euphoric strains, such as “Charlotte’s Web,” that is thought to help control seizures and ease symptoms of certain other medical conditions; and full-strength marijuana to alleviate pain, nausea and other symptoms for patients considered terminally ill. Since Surterra won approval to harvest last month, Florida has allowed four other companies to do the same: Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua County, Hackney Nursery in Gadsden County, Modern Health Concepts in Miami-Dade County, and Knox Nursery in Orange County.

These grow farms are poised to expand considerably if the required 60 percent of voters in November cast “Yes” ballots for Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution, which would legalize full-strength marijuana for an estimated 450,000 Floridians with debilitating illnesses.

To read one of my prior blogs on medical marijuana in Florida, click here.

Vote Yes for Amendment 2.

It is my opinion that the legalization of marijuana, especially for the treatment of sick children, is many decades overdue. Parents should not have to face the Hobson’s choice of breaking the law or obtaining relief for their sick child. For a herbal medication which has proven to have infinitely less adverse consequences than either alcohol or tobacco, this should be a “no brainer.”

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source:

“Florida’s first medical marijuana crop cut up, stored.” Associated Press. (July 18, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawfirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, associations between cannabis use and physical health problems, Charlotte’s Webb, medical marijuana use for terminally ill patients, legal representation for medical marijuana, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Study Finds States That Allow Medical Marijuana May Have Less Opioid Use

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On September 15, 2016, a new study was released from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, that suggests people in states that allow medical marijuana may be using fewer opioid painkillers. Researchers analyzed crash data in 18 states from 1999 to 2013 and revealed that states that allow medical marijuana use saw a reduction in opioid involvement in fatal car accidents.

The Relationship Between Medical Marijuana Laws and Opioid Use.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, is the first look at how the relationship of medical marijuana laws might affect the use of opioid painkillers. “After the implementation of a medical marijuana law, there appears to be less opioid use, at least among young and middle-aged adults,” study lead author June Kim said. He’s a graduate student in epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

The researchers used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database of about 69,000 drivers from 18 states who died in auto accidents between the years 1999 and 2013. Tests for alcohol and other drugs had been conducted on the drivers.

In states where medical marijuana law was legal and easily accessible, the study found that drivers between the ages of 21 and 40, had almost half the chances of testing positive for opioid painkillers, than those who crashed before such a law was implemented. The results further add to evidence suggesting that patients with chronic pain may substitute marijuana for a prescription painkiller in states where the option is available.

The study authors stressed that it’s not clear if the opioid painkillers — or, for that matter, marijuana — contributed to any of the car accidents.

Click here to read the published article in the American Journal of Public Health.

To read one of my prior blogs on the use of medical marijuana as a treatment for opioid addiction, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Ingraham, Christopher. “Study: medical pot means less opioid use.” Orlando Sentinel. (September 16, 2016). Print.

Dotinga, Randy. “Do medical pot states have less opioid abuse?” WebMD News from HealthDay. (September 15, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Marijuana treatment for opioid addiction, alternative addiction treatment, alternative for painkillers, medical marijuana defense attorney, American Journal of Public Health, medical marijuana for patients with chronic pain, substituting medical marijuana for prescription opioid painkillers, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, medical marijuana lawyer, defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, attorneys for physicians, pharmacist legal defense attorney, Board of Medicine defense lawyer, Department of Health defense counsel

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Questions and Answers about Complaints and Disciplinary Actions for Nurses, Physicians, Pharmacists and Other Health Care Professionals Being Investigated by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), Division of Professions and Occupations

5571 darken lighten center w skin softBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm

When a physician, pharmacist, nurse or other licensed health professional in Colorado has a complaint filed for professional negligence or other professional wrongdoing, it is investigated by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies or “DORA.” This will usually come in the form of a letter to the subject of the investigation. We recommend that you immediately contact an attorney experienced in such health professional licensure matters, and not try to respond or handle it by yourself. In many cases, your professional liability insurance will pay for your legal representation, even for a licensure action.

Following are some frequently asked questions and answers about DORA investigations.

Q: What is a “basis” for disciplinary action?

A: Each profession has a practice act, also known as an organic act or statute. These practice acts contain laws that govern a particular profession. The legal grounds for disciplinary action against a particular type of professional are set forth in the applicable practice act.

Q: How does the disciplinary process begin?

A: The disciplinary process begins when a complaint is filed with the regulatory authority by any member of the public, or when a regulatory authority initiates a complaint on its own.

Q: What is a complaint?

A: In the context of a professional disciplinary action, a complaint is an allegation that a licensee, certificate holder or registrant has violated the laws set forth in the applicable practice act. It is filed with or initiated by the appropriate regulatory authority, and it marks the beginning of the disciplinary process against a licensee, certificate holder or registrant.

Q: What happens after the complaint is filed?

A: The regulatory authority or its staff will review the facts alleged in the complaint to determine whether, if proven to be true, these facts constitute reasonable cause to believe a violation of the practice act has occurred. If the initial review determines that the regulatory authority does not have jurisdiction or that the regulatory authority does not have reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, the complaint will be dismissed, possibly with a confidential letter of concern to the licensee, certificate holder or registrant from the regulatory authority.
If the regulatory authority determines that it has reasonable cause to believe a violation of the practice act has occurred, a letter of admonition may be issued, the matter may be referred for disciplinary action, the action may be tabled to gather information, or a request may be submitted for a formal investigation with the Office of Investigations.

Q: What is the Office of Investigations?

A: Some complaints are investigated internally by the staff for a particular regulatory authority. However, the regulatory authority may also refer the complaint to the Office of Investigations, a program within the Division of Registrations, Department of Regulatory Agencies.

Q: If the complaint is forwarded to the Office of Investigations, do I receive notice?

A: You generally will receive a letter from the individual regulatory authority informing you that your complaint has been forwarded to the Office of Investigations. In some circumstances, however, the first contact you have regarding a complaint will be from the investigator assigned to handle the complaint.

Q: Do I need an attorney at this point?

A: A license, certificate or registration is an important property interest. It is important to remember that the regulatory authority, its staff, and the Office of Investigations cannot provide you with legal advice. You are not required to hire an attorney, but you have the right to be represented by an attorney at any stage of the proceeding. You are responsible for any costs associated with hiring an attorney. Your professional liability insurance carrier might provide assistance with legal costs associated with a professional disciplinary action.

Q: What happens in an investigation?

A: When a complaint is referred to the Office of Investigations, the assigned investigator acts as an impartial, fact-finding third party and does not “represent” the complainant, the regulatory authority, or the licensee, certificate holder or registrant. The Office of Investigations receives 500-600 cases a year. The average time to complete a case is 6 to 8 months depending on the complexity, witness cooperation and caseload of the investigator.
The investigator normally reviews the complaint and the response, subpoenas or otherwise obtains copies of pertinent documents or records, interviews witnesses and the licensee, certificate holder or registrant, and, where appropriate, retains an expert consultant to review the case. The investigator then prepares a written report that is reviewed by the regulatory authority, which will then determine whether to pursue disciplinary action. The investigator does not make any recommendations to the regulatory authority regarding what disciplinary action, if any, to take.

Q: How long does an investigation take?

A: The time frame to complete an investigation will vary. However, investigators try to process a complaint within 180 days of receipt of the complaint in the Office of Investigations. At times, the investigation of a case may take longer than 180 days. You may ask the investigator assigned to your case for an estimate of when the Report of Investigation will be prepared and presented to the regulatory authority.

Q: Do I get a copy of the Report of Investigation?

A: Generally, reports are not available to the public or to the licensee, certificate holder or registrant during the investigative stage of the proceeding or review process.

Q: Do I get notice of when the regulatory authority will review the Report of Investigation in my case?

A: This varies between programs. You may contact the regulatory authority or the investigator to inquire about the status of the investigation and the dates and locations of any meetings where the matter might be discussed. Some programs review Reports of Investigation in a closed meeting, which is not open to the public, including the licensee, certificate holder or registrant. Even if the disciplinary portion of the meeting is open to the public, generally you will not be permitted to address the regulatory authority and will only be allowed to listen to the discussion. Please check with the staff of your program.

Q: Can the public review government documents?

A: Regulatory authorities are governed by the Colorado Open Records Act, which provides the public access to certain government documents. Confidentiality requirements vary from program to program, and the investigator assigned to your case cannot advise you on this topic.

Q: What happens after the regulatory authority reviews the Report of Investigation?

A: If the regulatory authority finds that no violation occurred or that disciplinary action otherwise is not warranted, the case will be dismissed. If the regulatory authority finds that disciplinary action is not warranted, but that it has concerns about the conduct at issue, it may dismiss the case with a confidential letter of concern. If the regulatory authority finds that a violation occurred, it may impose discipline, including but not limited to a public letter of admonition, a probationary license, a suspension or a revocation. Disciplinary cases will be referred to the Office of Expedited Settlement (ESP) for settlement or the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for formal prosecution of the matter.

Q: What happens when your case is referred to ESP?

A: If your case is referred to ESP, you will be contacted by a staff member from ESP who will provide you with the offer of settlement approved by the regulatory authority. Generally, if a settlement is not reached within 90 days, the matter will be referred to the Office of Attorney General (OAG).

Q: What happens if the case is referred to the OAG?

A: If your case is referred to the OAG, the assigned Assistant Attorney General will provide legal representation to the regulatory authority. The Assistant Attorney General may prepare formal charges based upon the alleged violations of the practice act. If formal charges are filed, a hearing will be conducted before an administrative law judge at the Office of Administrative Courts to determine whether the charges are proven. At the hearing, you would have the right to be represented by counsel, and would have the opportunity to present and confront oral and documentary evidence, and to testify in your own defense.

Q: What happens if, after the hearing, I am found to have committed a violation?

A: Following the hearing, the administrative law judge will issue an initial decision, which will include factual findings, conclusions of law and a recommended sanction. Either party may challenge the initial decision by filing exceptions with the regulatory authority. The regulatory authority will review the initial decision and issue a final agency order that may adopt, partially adopt or reverse the initial decision. If a violation of the practice act is established, the final agency order may impose sanctions, which can include a letter of admonition, a fine, continuing education, probation, suspension or revocation of your license, certificate or registration. You have the right to appeal the final agency order to the appropriate court.

Q: Is it possible to get a copy of disciplinary actions filed against a licensed professional or entity?

A: Yes. You can access any public disciplinary action document through our Online Services. To look up an licensee, registrant or certificate holder and learn if there are any public disciplinary action documents available, please visit Online Services License Lookup website: https://www.colorado.gov/dora/licensing/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pain management doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


About the Author:
Carole C. Schriefer is a nurse-attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its regional office is in the Northern Colorado, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 155 East Boardwalk Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. Phone: (970) 416-7456.

Sources: The above information is mostly from the Colorado DORA website as of 8/17/2015.

Notice: This is the provision of general information only and does not constitute the provision of legal advice. Every case is different and every set of facts and circumstances is different. Consult a lawyer about your individual case.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2015-08-18T19:39:06+00:00May 15th, 2018|Colorado Health Law Blog|0 Comments

Orlando City Council Vote to Extend Temporary Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2016, Orlando’s City Council voted to extend its temporary ban on new marijuana dispensaries, less than a week after Florida voters backed a constitutional amendment to expand medical use of the drug. Back in July 2016, city commissioners voted to approve the temporary pause on marijuana dispensaries. The current ban is set to expire December 2016, but the city is pursuing an extension that would stretch the ban until July 1, 2017.

The Temporary Ban.

According to the city, the temporary ban will be beneficial because it will allow staffers to study the potential impacts of marijuana distributors, including whether they should be kept at arm’s length from neighborhoods, churches and schools. After the Legislature in 2014 legalized the low-THC oil known as Charlotte’s Web, the city of Orlando determined its current rules would categorize dispensaries as drug stores, like Walgreens and CVS. The city of Orlando pursued the July 2016 moratorium after three potential sellers of either medicinal marijuana or Charlotte’s Web had expressed interest in Orlando storefronts where proper zoning would allow them. So far, several South Florida cities have also adopted similar temporary bans on new potential dispensaries. The Orlando City Council will take its final vote on the extension in December 2016.

To learn more on the status of marijuana in Florida, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Problematic Approach.

To me this is very problematic. The citizens of Florida have spoken in making medical marijuana legal. However, it seems likely that we will be burdened with government officials acting to try to prohibit retail sellers and dispensaries in an attempt to prevent it nevertheless. For example, what would happen if every county now voted to prohibit dispensaries within their boundaries. This would cut the legs out from under the constitutional amendment passed by the voters.

We may have to go back to the polls again and vote in a constitutional amendment that blocks cities, counties and state agencies from preventing sales within their limits. Either that or elect John Morgan governor!

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Weiner, Jeff. “Orlando extends temporary ban on marijuana dispensaries.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 14, 2016). Web.

Weiner, Jeff. “City votes for pause on pot dispensaries.” Orlando Sentinel. (July 11, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Medical and recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana growers and distributors, expanding marijuana industry, medical marijuana defense attorney, The Health Law Firm Reviews, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, medical marijuana lawyer, legal counsel for marijuana industry, approval of Florida’s Amendment 2, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

Legal Access to Marijuana Expands: California Legalizes Recreational Pot & Florida Legalizes Medical Marijuana

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

After looking at the red and blue map of America from the recent presidential election, it may be time to add some green. On November 9, 2016, the movement to legalize marijuana, which has been in the public eye for some time now, took a giant step forward. Voters in California voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Voters in Florida, the third most populous state, overwhelmingly finally said yes to legalize medical marijuana use.

Expanding Legal Access to Marijuana.

Twenty-five states have already approved the use of medical marijuana and four states allowed recreational use. California, along with Massachusetts and Nevada approved the legalization of recreational pot use. Florida was joined by Arkansas, Montana and North Dakota in approving medical marijuana use.

Florida’s Amendment 2 passed with 71 percent of the vote. Those opposed to Amendment 2 feared that its passage would lead to pop-up dispensaries with little supervision. But supporters are convinced that it’s a necessary treatment for a wide variety of conditions from seizures to PTSD, addiction to opiates and cancer.
In 2014, the amendment got 57.6 percent of voter’s approval, just missing the 60 percent needed to pass.

Legalization Support.

According to national polls that were conducted, a solid majority of Americans support legalization of marijuana. Gallup’s latest survey for 2016 gauged support at 60 percent, up from 14 percent from when the question was first posed in 1969. Gallup says 13 percent of U.S. adults currently report using marijuana, nearly double the percentage who reported using pot in 2013. Click here to read the recent poll on marijuana support.

To learn more on the legalization of marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hale, Nathan. “Marijuana Ballots: Calif., Fla. Say Yes To Legal Pot.” Law360. (November 9, 2016). Web.

“Marijuana legalization: California, Nevada, Florida voters say yes but Arizona rejects.” Fox 5. (November 9, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Medical and recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana growers and distributors, expanding marijuana industry, medical marijuana defense attorney, The Health Law Firm Reviews, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana industry, approval of Florida’s Amendment 2, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark.

Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

Colorado Health Officials ‘Just Say No’ to Marijuana for PTSD Treatment

5571 darken lighten center w skin softBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm

The Colorado Board of Health denied a motion to approve medical marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on July 15, 2015. The rejection was made despite the recommendation of the state’s chief medical officer. This marks the third time that Colorado’s health officials have said ‘No’ to including PTSD on its medical marijuana approved uses list.

Is Marijuana Medicine?

The Colorado Board of Health voted 6-2 to reject a petition for PTSD to be included as a “debilitating condition” that can be treated with medical marijuana. Despite hearing testimony from several veterans pushing for approval, some board members believed that there was not enough scientific evidence to support this claim. To read this article in full from The Denver Post, click here.

To read a past blog on marijuana policy, click here.

Vote Yes.

According to The Denver Post, supporters of the proposal say that rather than focusing on the hard science, the needs of patients should also be considered. If it had been approved, it would have allowed physicians to recommend certain marijuana strains that provide relief without a ‘high’, according to Teri Robnett, director of the Cannabis Patients Alliance. Click here to go to their website and learn more about the Cannabis Patients Alliance.

Legal But With Limits.

Despite this recent rejection, Colorado has approved the use of marijuana for various health ailments. Colorado’s approved list of uses for medical marijuana currently includes muscle spasms, epilepsy, cancer, severe glaucoma and nausea. Currently, nine states allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana treatment for PTSD patients. To read a past blog on uses of medical marijuana, click here.

Comments?

Do you agree that PTSD should be excluded from the medical marijuana approval list? Do you approve of using medical marijuana as a treatment? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Draper, Electa. “Colorado Board Voted No on Allowing Medical Marijuana for PTSD.” The Denver Post. (July 15, 2015). From: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_28487952/colorado-board-votes-no-allowing-medical-pot-ptsd

Gray, Eliza. “Colorado Health Board Votes ‘No’ on Treating PTSD With Marijuana.” Time. ( July 15, 2015). From: http://time.com/3960940/colorado-ptsd-marijuana/

Coffman, Keith. “Colorado Rejects Medical Marijuana for PTSD Treatment.” Reauters. ( July 18, 2015). From: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/16/us-usa-colorado-marijuana-idUSKCN0PQ0CC20150716

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is a nurse-attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its regional office is in the Northern Colorado, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 155 East Boardwalk Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. Phone: (970) 416-7456.

KeyWords: Colorado Board of Health, Colorado Marijuana law, Cannabis Patients Alliance, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, medical marijuana for PTSD treatment, PTSD treatment, medical marijuana approval list, medical marijuana treatment, licensed medical marijuana user, medical marijuana defense attorney, marijuana lawyer health law, health care attorney, health care lawyer, medical cannabis, health law firm, The Health Law Firm

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2015-09-17T18:52:27+00:00May 15th, 2018|Colorado Health Law Blog|1 Comment
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