The Herald Bulletin

January 23, 2014

Public access counselor: Health center violated access law

By Scott L. Miley and Ken de la Bastide, The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — The Madison County Community Health Center violated Indiana's public access law by providing The Herald Bulletin newspaper with copies of board minutes that had been redacted, the state's Public Access Counselor wrote in an advisory opinion.

The newspaper had requested the state access counselor review the health center's actions in providing board minutes.

On Dec. 5, the newspaper requested copies of board meeting minutes from the health center, 1547 Ohio Ave. The newspaper made the request under Indiana's open records law. The request was made to Anthony J. Malone, chief executive officer at the health center, which serves uninsured and under-insured patients. The request was for board meeting minutes from Jan.1, 2011, through Dec. 1, 2013.

On Dec. 12, attorney William Norton, representing the health center, sent to the newspaper copies of board minutes he obtained from the health center. An official at the health center had crossed out segments using a black pen. On Dec. 17, the newspaper asked the Indiana Public Access Counselor to review the action.

On Wednesday, Public Access Counselor Luke Britt wrote that, in his opinion, the health center violated Indiana's Access to Public Records Act.

"Clearly the Center has stipulated that the minutes are public record subject to disclosure. What is not clear, without the benefit of a response, is why the documents were so heavily redacted," Britt wrote.

The Herald Bulletin supplied Britt with samples of the redacted minutes. Britt wrote that, based on the sample, "they do indeed appear to be redacted to the point of compromising the narrative of the minutes."

The health center is currently being investigated by the Indiana Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Also on Wednesday, Dr. Frank Campbell, former medical director at the health center, had his medical license suspended indefinitely by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board. He acknowledged to the board that he allowed physician assistants to use prescription pads he pre-signed, which is illegal. The licensing board ruled that Campbell could seek reinstatement of his license in one year.