It has been over four months since Dr. Stephen Skoly won a victory against the RI Department of Health, when a March 11 “Dismissal Stipulation” freed him to resume critical surgical care for his patients. This, after a RIDOH Compliance Order effectively shut down his practice on October 1 of 2021, when Skoly’s valid request for a medical exemption for the Covid vaccine, mandated for all healthcare workers, was rejected, forcing Skoly to shutter his practice and layoff his 12 employees.
But, as it turned out, it was a pyrrhic victory for Skoly in March. Since the original compliance order was withdrawn by RIDOH, its website still displayed a posting that Skoly was under “Disciplinary Action”.
What might appear to be a minor administrative oversight, in reality, is causing a major financial hit for Dr. Skoly’s practice.
Insurance carriers such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, originally notified last fall by RIDOH that Skoly was a persona non grata and was not allowed to provide care or collect insurance payments, apparently noticed online that Skoly’s practice appeared to still be under disciplinary action … and therefore refused to reimburse his practice for valid insurance claims by his private patients.
According to Skoly, his staff’s communications with the insurance carriers indicate they still believe that Dr. Skoly is under disciplinary suspension. One carrier said they wouldn’t pay the claims because “this provider isn’t to be practicing” and required “additional information to process your claim”. Another carrier was under the impression that Skoly’s license “is suspended effective 10/1/2021, according to the RI Department of Health,” and suggested that Skoly’s staff should work things out with the health department.
Over the past four months, Skoly estimates that multiple tens of thousands of dollars in legitimate patient insurance claims have been denied. Skoly estimates that his practice is back to only at about 60% of full-capacity.
When asked if he felt that by its misleading and erroneous website posting, RIDOH was still unjustly persecuting his practice, Skoly replied, “That’s what it feels like. I guess you could put it that way.” Earlier this year, Dr. Skoly retained the Washington, D.C. based law firm, the New Civil Liberties Alliance, to file a lawsuit earlier this year against RI DOH and the State of RI. NCLA and Skoly may soon be seeking further legal action to respond to the inaccurate information posted on the health department’s website.
When The Current inquired last week with RIDOH about its inaccurate posting, its spokesperson responded, “We keep all disciplinary actions, including Compliance Orders, posted online for 10 years. However, I am seeing that the Dismissal Stipulation for this matter was not also posted, as is usually the case. I will get that up. We are correcting the oversight now. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.”
As of the post-date of this column, one week later, the RI DOH website had not yet been updated to reflect that the compliance order had been withdrawn. But Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, of which Dr. Skoly has served as Chairman for the past three years, suggests that RIDOH should go one step further to rectify this injustice. “It might also be helpful if the DOH proactively sent out a notice to the insurance carriers, clearly stating that Doc Skoly’s practice was back in the health department’s good standing and there is no reason that valid insurance claims should not be paid to his practice.”
The Current will continue to monitor this situation and will update this story as appropriate. A long-form In The Dugout with Mike Stenhouse interview with Dr. Skoly and his attorneys is expected soon.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?