Insurance companies target environmental medicine doctors
UPdate Fall 2007
Dr. William Rea of the Dallas Environmental Health Center, an international leader in environmental medicine, is under attack from the Texas Medical Board. Since October 2005, the Board has been investigating Dr. Rea on the basis of an anonymous complaint which charges that he provided substandard care and “endangering public health.”
No patients have complainted against Dr. Rea. All five patients named in the anonymous complaint have written to the Texas Medical Board, stating that they are not making allegations of any kind against Dr. Rea. Two of the patients have stated that Dr. Rea saved their lives. All five patients became ill from 9/11 exposures.
The Texas Medical Board has ignored the protests of these patients and are continuing to pursue charges against Dr Rea. The board has refused to officially reveal to Dr. Rea who made the complaint, what Dr. Rea is alleged to have done, or the evidence against him.
According to Dr. Rea, “We are almost certain that United Health Care/Oxford is behind the complaint. All five patients were from Manhattan (New York City), New York and all had the same insurance company - United Health Care/Oxford.”
Insurance companies in the US are taking aggressive action against physicians who veer from accepted medical practice. According to Dr. Rea, “Over the past 10 years the number of physicians who are willing to diagnose and treat Lyme Disease has dropped sharply, while cases of Lyme disease have skyrocketed. This is because several health insurance companies have systematically targeted the doctors who specialized in treating that illness.
“Many of these physicians have had complaints made against them in exactly the same manner that they have been made against m,” Rea wrote in an open letter to patients. “These same types of complaints have been made against doctors who treat patients for chemical sensitivities, mold exposure, for Gulf War Syndrome, and now possibly against physicians who are treating patients who were injured in the 911 tragedy.”
EHANS has joined the call for a Senate investigation into the actions of the Texas Medical Board. In a letter to Texas Senator Jane Nelson, EHANS wrote, “Doctor Rea is a world leader in his field. Physicians such as Dr. Rea who practice environmental medicine are the only hope of increasing numbers of people who are developing environmental illnesses in our increasingly toxic world.
“We are shocked to learn that the Texas Medical Board allows anonymous complaints and anonymous witnesses. This goes against basic rules of fairness, and opens the door for persecution of doctors whose only offense is to provide medical help ahead of their time to persons desperately in need,” the letter continued.
If the Texas Medical Board is allowed to succeed in its attempts to revoke Dr. Rea’s medical license, it would have a chilling effect on doctors practicing environmental or complementary medicine everywhere.
The case of Dr. Rea, and that of Dr. Josef Krop of Toronto almost a decade ago have many similarities. In Dr. Krop’s case, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons attempted to limit his practice of medicine, also without any patient complaints. As with Dr. Rea, Dr. Krop’s patients were satisfied and grateful for the treatment they had received. They testified that Dr. Krop had provided treatment that had improved their health when other physicians were unable to help them. Dr. Krop’s case led to an improvement in the way the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons handles complaints against physicians.
Several provinces in Canada have now adopted legislation to protect physicians who practice complementary, or non-traditional, medicine. In the province of Manitoba, the Medical Act now reads, "[A doctor] shall not be found guilty of professional misconduct or of incompetence solely on the basis that the member practices a therapy that is non-traditional or departs from the prevailing medical practice, unless it can be demonstrated that the therapy poses a greater risk to a patient's health or safety than the traditional or prevailing practice.” Nova Scotia has not adopted this type of protective legislation.
Dr. Rea’s letter to patients about the current situation and suggestions for action can be found at http://www.environmentalhealth.ca/special/reaopenletter