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TribBlog: Workers' Comp War of Words

As lawmakers on the Sunset Advisory Commission prepare to publicly review the Division of Workers' Compensation on Tuesday, the Commissioner and his former physician fraud investigator are waging a war of words in their letters to lawmakers.

April 29, 2010. Dr. Ken Ford at his Houston home.

Who's at fault in the Division of Workers' Compensation's major backlog in sanctioning dishonest doctors? Commissioner Rod Bordelon has argued that due process concerns explain why 70 cases of doctors recommended for sanction sit pending inside the agency. In January, Bordelon also closed at least eight cases and stopped them from going to enforcement because he says the process of selecting doctors for review was interfering with due process rights. Dr. Ken Ford, a physician fraud investigator for DWC from 2004 to March of this year, blames unfit leadership for the enforcement backlog.

Both will be testifying before lawmakers on the Sunset Advisory Commission tomorrow. In advance of the hearing, Commissioner Bordelon wrote to the chairs and vice-chairs of the panel, responding to Ford and other former workers' comp division employees' claims that he was leaving patients in harm's way and wasting tens of thousands of dollars by blocking the removal of unqualified doctors who overtreat patients and overbill the system. Now, Ford, who served as the Division's former Assistant Medical Advisor, is reaching out to the Sunset members on his own — arguing that Bordelon misrepresented the truth in his letter last week. The full letter is available for download. But here's a quick excerpt:

All of the medical doctors involved with the Office of Medical Advisor are leaving the Division. I strongly believe this is a result of the Commissioner's failure to deal with doctors providing harmful medical care. As indicated in his letter, Mr. Bordelon attempts to justify his protection of unqualifed doctors by contending that doctors should be selected for review on a completely random basis. His view that the selection process used was unfair, violated due process rights and jeopardized the enforcement of cases is fundamentally wrong.

Mr. Bordelon not only does not understand due process, he appears ot be unaware that statistical programs identifying "outlier" doctors are used by hospitals and medical organizations throughout the United States in order to idenfity doctors whose practice should be subject to peer review... Mr. Bordelon's proposed "random review" process is inconsistent with the intention of the Legislature ...

The issues involving millions in waste, dishonest doctors and dangerous healthcare should be a matter of great concern to members of government of all political persuasions. I am confident that if these issues are investigated properly the appropriate actions will be taken.

Commissioner Bordelon, Ford, and a former enforcement attorney at the Division are expected to testify before Sunset lawmakers tomorrow.

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