It’s only one less caregiver. A single compassionate doctor, expert in treating the scourge of addiction, beloved by patients, will likely be blocked from providing care to people who need her.
At least, that’s what the hearing examiner for the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners (SDBMOE) recommended last week to the full board, in the aftermath of a July 31 hearing. The board will meet to formally decide next month.
Why revoke the license? Well, that’s the source of much controversy (not to mention four previous columns here at Townhall).
The SDBMOE hearing regarding Dr. Annette Bosworth’s license to practice medicine follows her prosecution and conviction by South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley on twelve felony counts relating to her signing as the circulator on six petitions containing just 37 voter signatures of the thousands gathered to nominate her for the U.S. Senate back in 2014. The six petition forms had been left out for folks to sign at her medical office and circulated at a Hutterite community, including during a period when it could be documented that the doctor was in the Philippines on a medical mercy mission.
One of the 37 signers was Dr. Bosworth’s sister.
Bosworth says her attorney advised her that she could lawfully sign the circulator affidavit. The fact that said lawyer then notarized those same petitions seems to confirm her account. Additionally, former State Senator Gordon Howie explained that it is common practice for candidates to circulate their petitions in large crowds and at events where it’s impossible for them to actually witness each signature being affixed to the petition — as is the legal requirement.
Howie also points to previous politicians being forgiven for such transgressions — folks on more friendly terms with the AG. For his part, AG Marty Jackley claimed the doctor’s crimes were “serious, deliberate and must be addressed in order to preserve the integrity of our elections.”
Being a student of the petition process, I looked into the matter and traveled to South Dakota to release a report. My findings were straightforward: While Annette Bosworth should be held to account for signing an affidavit that was not accurate and true, her prosecution, carrying a possible 24 years in prison and $48,000 in fines — not to mention the possible loss of her medical license — was way over the top. In fact, the draconian nature of it sent a chilling message to all aspiring first-time candidates to be very wary of getting involved in Mount Rushmore State politics.
For fear one’s picture will end up in the post office and not on a mountain side.
The penalty threatened against Annette Bosworth was the most severe I could find against any American on petition-related charges, while her alleged transgressions were arguably the least sinister I’ve seen prosecuted.
Attorney General Jackley was quick to respond to my report by arguing that he had talked to other AGs and that his prosecution was similar to similar cases in those other states. Yet the only case the AG would publicly cite was the prosecution of Butch Morgan in Indiana.
Hmmm? The Butch Morgan case is like the Bosworth case only in that both involve petitions, and frankly, that's where the similarities end.
While Bosworth was a political neophyte, Morgan was the longtime chairman of the St. Joseph (Indiana) Democratic Party. While Dr. Bosworth’s troubles concerned voter signatures that were actually valid and she had far in excess of the legal requirement, Morgan cooked up a successful conspiracy to forge signatures on petitions, without which neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton would have qualified for the 2008 Indiana ballot.
Did Mr. Jackley really not see any difference between Bosworth’s signing of the circulator statement on petitions that folks she knew had voluntarily signed and Morgan's forgery scheme that included corrupting county election officials to forge and then validate their own faked signatures?
No wonder that Morgan was sentenced to a year in jail, and Annette Bosworth was given probation.
But the real punishment Dr. Bosworth faces is the loss of her medical license. Bosworth is a wonderful physician. Even the judge in her case, acknowledging the dozens and dozens of patients who had written to him, concluded that she clearly must do fine work as a doctor.
Yet, the felony convictions give the state medical board all the excuse needed to take her license. And even before the petition offenses, Dr. Bosworth has been locked in a multi-year battle with the state medical board and with Marty Jackley, the AG.
Dr. Bosworth fought with the board over getting her patients the drugs that worked for them, instead of what Medicaid bureaucrats were telling her to prescribe, sometimes paying for the non-covered medicine out of her own pocket. That’s the essence of a phony billing complaint for which the state medical board tried to rake Dr. Bosworth over the coals.
Then there was the op-ed Bosworth published in a local newspaper, critical of the state medical board. A CNN iReport summed it up this way: “Dissent gets you investigated if you are a doctor in South Dakota. . . . The SDBMOE’s response: haul Dr. Bosworth in for a hearing and possible punishment Wednesday.”
AG Jackley has been clear and strong that he has no involvement with the SDBMOE. But that’s not quite accurate. The administrative law judge gathering information for the medical board in this case is a public defender employed by the AG’s office. The SDBMOE’s attorney also just happens to be an assistant AG, who of course works for Marty Jackley.
After the July 31 medical board hearing regarding her license, Dr. Bosworth was asked to provide any additional information. In a brief to the SDMBOE, she came up with a comparison much more appropriate than Mr. Jackley’s case comparison, noting that the board did nothing to investigate or hold accountable a doctor with previous felony convictions for fraud and burglary as well as numerous complaints from patients and other medical personnel for poor performance and also regularly performing unnecessary surgeries.
That doctor, however, had significant support from the major medical corporation for which he worked and that corporation has enormous political clout as well.
In recommending that the independent and fiercely conscientious Dr. Bosworth have her license revoked, the SDBMOE examiner made clear that the past battles between the board and Dr. Bosworth, issues the board had not been able to use successfully against the doctor, were now a large part of their case against her.
“It would be a strain not to consider the previous conduct of Dr. Bosworth in conjunction with these recent felony convictions,” claimed the examiner. “Past problems with her Medicaid billing, and with her paying of an employee were brought up in the hearing on this matter. Regardless of the details, it becomes difficult to view these felony convictions as isolated.”
Regardless of the details? Put another way, they want this troublemaker — who dares put her patients above the medical bureaucracy — out of their way.
We, in America, need a lot more troublemaking doctors like Annette Bosworth.
And a lot less power bestowed on boards like the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners and prosecutors like Marty Jackley.