Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, January 21, 2005

Panel May Have Bone To Pick With Capitol

Dec. 28, 2004

Panel May Have Bone To Pick With Capitol


TAMPA - A showdown is brewing between some members of Florida's muscle-flexing higher education board and proponents of a plan to place a state-funded chiropractic school at Florida State University.
Whether the proposed FSU school gets a green light from Florida's Board of Governors won't be known until members gather in Gainesville on Jan. 27.

``Some have expressed some negative thoughts, no doubt, and others have been quiet, so I think it will be a very interesting meeting,'' Carolyn Roberts, the board's chairwoman, said Monday.

Either way, the school already is funded.

Some members are peeved that the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature appropriated $9 million a year, essentially forever, to fund the proposed Tallahassee school before the board approved anything.

Steven Uhlfelder, a board member and Tallahassee lawyer, called that an awkward situation.

``We have to figure out a way to diplomatically deal with a tough issue,'' Uhlfelder said, adding that he hasn't made up his mind about the need for a chiropractic school.

So far, FSU trustees have not applied to the board for approval of the school.

Lawmakers leading the charge to fund the school included a chiropractor, Dennis Jones, of Treasure Island, who then was Senate majority leader, along with then-Senate President Jim King, R-Jacksonville.

Some FSU faculty and private doctors have expressed concerns about the proposed school.

Donald J. Krippendorf, of St. Petersburg, president of the board of the American Chiropractic Association, defended chiropractic medicine, saying Florida patients would benefit from having well-trained chiropractors turned out by a state school.

The state governing board has ordered an analysis of the need for a taxpayer-funded chiropractic school.

The analysis will be discussed at the Jan. 27 meeting of the 17-member board.

Pushing for a board review of the proposed school at the last meeting was Vice Chairman John Dasburg, the former chief executive of Miami- based Burger King Corp., now head of an air cargo company.

Roberts, the chairwoman, said she had not reviewed her staff's report on the school plan, which she characterized as neither pro nor con.

``I asked them to analyze the chiropractic school, and I assume this will be a full analysis,'' Roberts said. ``It won't be a recommendation from the staff either way. It's information for the members to allow them to ask for more information or make a decision.''

In November, the board voted unanimously to require FSU to seek board approval before going ahead with plans for the chiropractic school, despite the state funding in place.

Although the board, formed two years ago, is charged with approving new programs at Florida's 11 public universities, it has acted largely as a rubber-stamp, say critics such as E.T. York, chancellor emeritus of the state university system of Florida.

The move to question and review the need for the school shows the board might be flexing its muscle after almost two years of meekness, York said.

Uhlfelder, a former regent, disagreed that the board has been weak.

``Rome wasn't built in a day,'' he said. ``Ideally, we would have approved the program first, and funding would have followed.''

Uhlfelder said that in the past, lawmakers have approved funding for medical and law schools before project approval was given by oversight authorities that preceded the current board.

``The Legislature controls the purse strings,'' he said. ``That's what makes this difficult. If the program is rejected, what happens to the money?''

The board was created by a 2002 constitutional amendment. Members come from business, law and academia. The only local member is Sheila McDevitt, senior vice president-general counsel for Tampa Electric Co.

York and Floridians for Constitutional Integrity are preparing to sue the Legislature over the appropriation for FSU and $15 million a year for the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute at the University of South Florida. The suit will allege that neither program received the Board of Governors' approval.