For immediate release
Contact: Thuy Nguyen (802-828-2148)
May 24, 1999
Medical Practice Board to Return to Secretary of
Secretary Markowitz Touts Medical Practice Board Agreement
On Monday, May 24, 1999, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, joined by Dr. John Mazuzan,
Chair of the Medical Practice Board, and Karen Meyer, Executive Director of the Medical
Society, disclosed the agreement that has returned oversight of the Medical Practice Board
to the Secretary of State. According to Secretary of State Markowitz, the parties
"worked together to craft an agreement that will finally resolve long standing issues
of accountability and public protection in the oversight of Vermont’s Medical
profession." Markowitz said, "with the support of Governor, Howard Dean,
Representative Jerry Kreitzer, and Senator Bill Doyle, the Medical Practice Board will now
return to the Secretary of State’s Office."
The Medical Practice Board licenses all physicians who practice in Vermont and
investigates and refers to the Attorney General for prosecution, complaints of
unprofessional conduct. In 1990, as a result of a lawsuit brought against the Secretary of
State’s Office by the Board, the Medical Practice Board became independent. According
to Markowitz, "Over the past nine years the legislature has regularly debated the
proper place for the medical practice board. Shortly after I took office, Dr. Mazuzan and
I decided to see if we could possibly find a way to put this debate to rest."
Markowitz said "when we sat down to discuss the board we decided to follow the old
Vermont adage, "if it aint broke – don’t fix it." Accordingly, the
Agreement between the Medical Practice Board and my office recognizes that Vermonters
deserve to have independent oversight of the Board that regulates our Doctors, but that
meaningful oversight does not need to come at the expense of the operational
efficiency." Dr Mazuzan said "as an independent board we made great gains in
reducing our backlog of cases, and the time it takes to resolve complaints, but
nevertheless, some oversight by the Secretary of State’s Office is necessary for
assuring public confidence in the board and in our decisions."
According to H.112 which was signed into law on May 13th, and the Memorandum
of Agreement between the Secretary of State and the Medical Practice Board:
- The Board will continue to maintain operational independence by managing its own
finances, hiring and directing the day-to-day activities of investigators and support
staff, and contracting with the Attorney General’s Office for prosecutorial services.
- The Secretary of State is has authority, with consultation of the board, to hire and
fire the executive director.
- The Secretary of State’s is given access to all documents (of course, under the
same statutory obligations of confidentiality as the Board has,) and is able to review the
intake, investigation, analysis and resolution of complaints as well as identify problem
areas involving process, staffing, or budget issues, and to work through the executive
director to implement changes in the problem areas.
Secretary Markowitz said "While the vast majority of Vermont’s physicians are
competent and dedicated doctors, it is critical that the public has confidence that
doctors who violate the standards of the profession, who may endanger the health and well
being of those entrusted to their care, are not permitted to practice in Vermont. Bringing
the Medical Practice Board back to the Office of the Secretary of State will increase
public confidence in the board, and will enhance Board accountability and will streamline
the provision of professional regulation services to better protect the health and welfare
of people of Vermont."