In 2013, Santa Fe police arrested an Albuquerque dentist who was accused of operating an illegal dental practice out of his truck and a dirty tackle box. During a sting operation, police were able to bait the suspect, Eliver Kestler, into offering unlicensed, cut-rate dental work. In doing so, Kestler was accused of violating several federal and state laws, as well as endangering the lives of all of the “patients” that he treated. Aside from noting the inherent risk in hiring noncertified strangers for medical treatment, manylocal professionals feelas though they need to help remedy the situation by providing free treatment for victims. With a trial set for February 2015, victims and medical boards are hoping the man remains behind bars.
However, some believe that the victims made a choice in utilizing his services and that this should be considered as legal consent. Many who make this argument compare this situation to hiring unlicensed contractors for things such as pool service and home repair. The argument elaborates on the Kestler situation by claiming that, whether he has the skills to perform the procedures or not, you can’t blame someone for offering a service that’s cheaper than its competitors, even if it is potentially harmful. They are essentially debating standard medical licensing law that is in place to protect citizens from, whether they know it or not, endangering their lives. The issue from this point is a matter of deception. Kestler, perhaps, had he been more upfront with his patients and taken excellent care of them, could have been an advocate for legalizing unlicensed medical practice.
Insurance coverage and payment options are another issue that those who put faith in unlicensed medical practices need to address. In the Kestler scenario, patients were unable to use the free healthcare offered under new law. Furthermore, when patients were unable to pay up, Kestler made threats and acted like a thug. To validate the right to unlicensed medical treatment, one would have to get at least some of the big insurance companies, as well as federal health insurance agencies, on board. Without their involvement, the financial setting would resemble that of you leasing a lemon of a car out via a loan with terribly high interest rates. Except, in this case, you aren’t getting a bad car, you are getting bad healthcare.
Onthe same day he posted bail, Kestler was thrown back in a cell for violating his parole terms after an intimidating comment was made to Blanca Castillo, one of the alleged victims. He will remain confined until his court date sometime in the middle of February. As with most unique legal situations, lawmakers and attorneys are hoping that this case will establish a firm precedent for similar cases in the future. As legal counsel to the victims, attorney Morgan Wood is confident that the jury will find Kestler guilty, especially given his reckless actions since being arrested over a year and a half ago.