After reading the guest column by Paul Dionne, “Story was misleading and inaccurate” (June 27), it was unclear whether the headline referred to an earlier Sun Journal story or Dionne’s own column.

In response to Dionne’s effort at rewriting history, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce felt compelled to remind Dionne and Sun Journal readers of the facts, explaining why we joined the lawsuit initiated by Bath Iron Works against the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board in the fall of 2006. While the regulation of physician fees and health care facility costs were the primary goals of the lawsuit, there has been continued controversy over the role of the WCB executive director.

In addition to his job as WCB executive director, Dionne is also the chairman of the board of directors of Central Maine Healthcare, a holding company for several hospitals, including Central Maine Medical Center. In his capacity as chairman of this board, Dionne owes a fiduciary duty to the nonprofit hospital corporation. The facility fee schedule the WCB has been ordered to implement regulates payments to hospitals for providing services to employees with work-related injuries. Although this conflict of interest was raised at the very outset of the litigation, Dionne never mentioned that his service on the nonprofit CMH Board was a compensated position.

In April 2007, Dionne wrote to the Maine attorney general, seeking an opinion about whether a conflict existed. However, in doing so, he did not include the seemingly relevant fact that he was being compensated by CMH. The parties to the lawsuit were unaware of the payments to Dionne until Feb. 14, 2010, when the Sun Journal reported that Dionne had been paid more than $60,000 by CMH.

Dionne again wrote to the Office of the Attorney General, on March 29, 2010, finally disclosing to that office that life insurance policies CMH has for its trustees had been converted to “three $20,000 payments in 2009, 2010, and 2011.”

Dionne complains the Sun Journal article was “misleading and inaccurate” regarding his conflict of interest in the WCB’s establishment of a medical fee schedule for hospital services. He claims there have been “years of effort on (his) part to successfully resolve the issue” and the court’s decision validates the WCB’s efforts.

To verify the accuracy of his statements, it is best to refer to Superior Court Justice Murphy’s June 9, 2010, decision:

“The executive director serves an important role as the tie breaking vote on a panel otherwise consisting of an equal number of labor and business representatives. This raises a serious question as to whether Dionne, as the holder of this critical vote and also chairman of the board for CMH, should participate in the enactment of this medical facility fee schedule pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. Section 18(7). Contrary to the Board’s claim that Dionne is ‘on top of the issue[,]’ it has been more than two years since the Office of Attorney General advised Dionne on the potential conflict of interest and he has yet to make a formal decision. His continuing participation in the rule-making process without making this decision and declaring whether he can act free from bias, also seems to be contrary to the advice given by the attorney general. Despite these concerns, however, and for reasons stated above, the court declines to disrupt the rulemaking process.

“Nothing in this decision would prevent the issue from coming back before the court at a later time, and the court trusts that Dionne has considered what effect his continued participation in rulemaking might have on a future challenge to the legality and validity of that process, should a Court later find that he did not act free from a conflict of interest.”

The WCB was under a legal obligation to create two fee schedules as far back as Jan. 1, 1993. It is 2010, and the board has now been ordered in two decisions of the Maine Superior Court to accomplish what it should have completed many years ago.

Spending precious time revising history won’t help accomplish this goal. Instead, staff should be working with the business and labor members to settle this issue fairly and within the requirements of the law.

Peter M. Gore is vice president of Advocacy and Government Relations for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.


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