Ethics Commission looking at sticker disbursement

Thursday, July 4th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Ethics Commission is looking into reports that Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher asked chiropractors to affix ``friend of Carroll Fisher'' stickers to insurance forms to obtain faster claims processing service.

The state Board of Chiropractic Examiners learned of Fisher's offer at their June board meeting and immediately turned the information over to an assistant attorney general.

The attorney general's office forwarded the information to the Ethics Commission.

The chiropractic board did not distribute the stickers. Similar stickers have been distributed to doctors through the Osteopathic Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

Lynette McLain, executive director of the Osteopathic Association, said her association distributed the stickers to members in April at a convention where Fisher spoke.

``We did it as a service,'' McLain said, adding she was unsure exactly how the stickers were supposed to speed up claims processing.

``I guess if I was in an insurance claim office _ I would think it might help to draw attention to a claim they might be having difficulty with.''

During the board meeting, President Ron Tripp asked if the insurance commissioner's office was selling the stickers and how much the office would make. Tripp said he was later told there was no charge for the stickers.

He said Fisher called on Monday and said the stickers weren't meant to offend anyone.

Tripp said Fisher told him he had received a letter from the Ethics Commission, informing him a complaint had been filed by the Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

The chiropractic board had not intended to file a complaint against Fisher, Tripp said. Board members gave the material to the attorney general's office, which provides legal advice to the board, because they didn't know what to do with it.

``We just felt uncomfortable addressing it,'' Tripp said. ``The meeting minutes tape has us laughing because we didn't know how to deal with it.''

The red, white and blue stickers are 2-inch by 1-inch and read, ``I'm a Friend of Carroll Fisher, Insurance Commissioner.''

Tripp said some might view the stickers as ``a strong-arm tactic.... You'd better pay this because I'm a friend of Carroll Fisher.''

The stickers were accompanied by a reorder form containing the Insurance Commissioner's seal that stated, ``Please use the 'I'm a Friend of Carroll Fisher, Insurance Commissioner' stickers by affixing them to your Insurance Company claim submissions or problem claim correspondence.''

Fisher did not return calls from The Daily Oklahoman seeking comment, but he told a KWTV reporter that his campaign fund paid for the stickers.

The intent was ``to try and get more prompt response from the industry to take care of the people of Oklahoma and get our doctors reimbursed after providing services.''

``No way is it designed as a political ploy,'' he said. ``That's not what it's for.''