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Friday, March 30, 2007

The Daily GOP Crook

by digby

I think I'm going to institute a feature called The Daily GOP Crook. Obviously, it will not be comprehensive because there are so many of them to choose from. But I will struggle to weed through all the news stories about corruption, lying, malfeasance and ineptitude in this admnistration to find one special Bushie to highlight.

My pick today is our old friend Dr. Eric Keroack. Dr. Keroack, you'll recall, is the freakish rightwing anti-birth control zealot who Bush naturally chose to head the Health and Human Services office of Population Affairs. Both tristero and I wrote about him repeatedly, but you may remember him more for his unusual views about sexual abstinence as illustrated by this little hand-out he used at meetings and seminars:

And this:

Of course Bush would appoint someone like that to head the family planning department at HHS. Unfortunately, something seems to have gone wrong with Keroack's own practice:

The head of the federal office responsible for providing women with access to contraceptives and counseling to prevent pregnancy resigned unexpectedly yesterday after Medicaid officials took action against him in Massachusetts.

The Health and Human Services Department provided no details about the nature of the Massachusetts action that led to Dr. Eric Keroack's resignation.


"Yesterday, Dr. Eric Keroack alerted us to an action taken against him by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Office of Medicaid. As a result of this action I accepted his resignation," Dr. John Agwunobi, assistant secretary for health, said in a statement last evening.

Massachusetts Medicaid officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.


Keroack told his staff in a letter yesterday that he became aware of the action being taken against his private medical practice in Massachusetts. He said he immediately hired a lawyer to initiate an appeal. He did not elaborate on why the action was taken.

How shocking. Another conservative Christian member of the Bush administration seems to have some sort of ethical problem. I have no idea what the details of these alleged ethical problems are except that it is Medicaid related. Kerouack's practice was described in this Alternet article:

He's the full-time medical director for A Woman's Concern, a chain of Boston area crisis pregnancy centers, where he spreads all the usual lies about abortion and uses ultrasound scans as a tool to influence the decisions of women who might be considering abortion.

(You can read all about it, here.)

We can only imagine why Keroack had to resign. But it does bring to mind an earlier scandal with a rightwing Christian doctor and medicaid: Dr Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma:

According to records obtained by Salon, Coburn filed an apparently fraudulent Medicaid claim in 1990, which he admitted in his own testimony in a civil malpractice suit brought against him 14 years ago by a former female patient. The suit alleged that Coburn had sterilized her without her consent. It eventually was dismissed after the plaintiff failed to appear for the trial. In his sworn testimony, Coburn admitted he sterilized the then 20-year-old woman without securing her written consent as required by law. He blamed the omission on a clerical error, but maintained that he had her oral consent for the procedure. (Salon has been unable to contact the woman and is withholding her name out of respect for her privacy.) Coburn also revealed under oath that he had charged the procedure to Medicaid -- despite knowing that Medicaid, also known as Title 19, does not cover the cost of sterilization for anyone under age 21.

Coburn was elected in spite of this revelation and I think we know why: good conservative Christians have no problem with sterilizing bad poor women without written permission and charging the taxpayers for it.

Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that Keroack has done that specific thing. But let's just say that it's been proven over and over again that good Christian conservative "doctors" have as "flexible" a sense of medical ethics as they do of political ethics. Nothing would surprise me.