Health leaders promise change in how Arizona regulates SimonMed following ABC15 Investigation

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Jennifer Kovaleski joined the ABC15 Investigators in June 2023, bringing with her a lengthy record of law-changing, viewer-impacting investigations.

Internal emails obtained by the ABC15 Investigators show SimonMed, one of the Valley’s largest medical imaging providers, operated unlicensed and unregulated by the state health department for nearly six years after the state rescinded a policy statement that allowed the company to qualify for a special exemption from licensing.

ABC15 also questioned how one licensed physician could provide care at SimonMed’s more than 60 Arizona locations and therefore qualify as a private medical office exempt from health department licensing. Both incidents raised serious questions about patient safety but were never investigated by the health department because without a license the agency said it doesn’t have the authority to investigate complaints or take enforcement action.

In another email, the same employee wrote, “I think what you are seeing is the total lack of oversight. These poor patients have essentially been denied their rights and they have had no way to report the facilities.” According to the emails, SimonMed only qualified for the licensing exemption after the health department rescinded a substantive policy statement earlier that same year related to what qualifies as a private office under Arizona law.

But as the health department was trying to figure out why SimonMed wasn’t licensed last year, the Bureau Chief of Medical Facilities Licensing wrote in an August 2023 email, “I do not believe the SimonMed meets the definition of private office, but I understand they may have been involved in getting the SPS taken down,” referring to the policy statement the health department removed in 2018.

Source: Healthcare Press (healthcarepress.net)

 

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