News from the Missourinet(two stories)

Doctor’s credentials reportedly stolen, used to help 600 Missouri patients get medical marijuana cards

The state health department has launched an investigation after an unauthorized physician signature was used to help about 600 Missouri patients get certified for medical marijuana use. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Spokesperson Lisa Cox tells Missourinet an involved party notified the state of suspected case of the fraud, and then the agency worked to find additional affected individuals.

Doctor’s credentials reportedly stolen, used to help 600 Missouri patients get medical marijuana cards

“What we’ve found was that a doctor who is perfectly capable of certifying patients if he or she chose to, their name and credentials were being used without their knowledge to actually certify these patients,” says Cox. “It’s primarily affecting the St. Louis area, is what we’ve found. There were some patients in the northern part of the state.”

Cox says all of the roughly 54,000 medical marijuana patient applications received have been reviewed for good standing and for red flags or discrepancies that indicate the need for additional checks. On top of that, the department does regular random checks.

Missouri’s medical marijuana process allows patients to request certification virtually. Cox thinks the patients got an unauthorized signature primarily through telemedicine visits.

“What the investigation is, is trying to determine who this person was that was possibly offering these telemedicine visits to patients who unknowingly maybe weren’t being seen by an actual doctor,” says Cox.

Patients impacted are being notified and given a deadline to submit a valid doctor’s approval to the state. If a valid certification is not received by the deadline, the individual’s license will be revoked, pursuant to 19 CSR 30-95.030(3)(B)1.C, and a pro-rated refund of the original $25 registration fee for the amount of time left on the deactivated license will be provided. If patients contact DHSS and are working to make an appointment or are struggling to do so, the state could try to resolve the issue on a case by case basis.

Some clinics are even offering free appointments to help the defrauded patients get a valid doctor’s approval.

The suspected fraud case has been referred to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Board of Healing Arts for further potential action.

Missouri could start selling medical marijuana later this summer, possibly in August, to patients with qualifying health conditions.

Missouri Capitol makeover expected to finish later this year

A $45 million project to spruce up the Missouri Capitol is on track to finish in November or December. As the first major construction work of the building assembled in 1917, it is addressing deteriorating stonework on its facades, dome and drum, overall appearance and stabilizing the structure. Upon completion, the project will extend the life of the building and ensure the historic structure is properly preserved for decades to come.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City

The project includes two phases. The first phase began in 2016 to address the substructure of the building, including waterproofing and repairs to major leakage into the basement. It also refurbished the outside Capitol grand staircase, which is 30 feet wide and extends from ground level to the third floor.

The current phase is focused on the stonework and terraces. Project Manager Mike Qutami with the Office of Administration says most of the stone is in good shape but there are some problem spots being fixed.

“Basically, every square foot of that building was assessed and will receive some kind of treatment – that being repair of the stone, reshaping of the stone and definitely cleaning all the stone,” he says. “The south entrance – there was a huge chunk of stone, about 4,000 maybe 5,000 pounds that could have come down any time. Now throughout the building, there was some pieces that could have fallen from the upper part of the perimeter of the Capitol façade.”

The stone being used in the repair work is from Willard in southwest Missouri.

“The actual stone replacement was approximately 5% of the stone in the building,” he says. “And that total is approximately 4,565,000 pounds.”

Other repair work is at the structure’s north plaza where sidewalks and walkways have buckled. In addition, all the bronze monuments in the capital complex are being conserved. Chief among them is the statue that had been perched 260 feet high atop the capitol dome for 95 years. The sculpture of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, was lowered to the ground in 2018. She was shipped off to a Chicago spa for laser treatment to restore Ceres to her natural beauty.

In 2014, the Missouri Legislature approved bonding for the renovations.