Yesterday, the President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), in a moment that must have been heartbreaking for him, found himself in the position of having to chasten more than 10,000 unruly senior US physicians, thanks to a petition drive. In his statement, the aggrieved Dr. Baron, in a plea for common sense, bemoans the fact that physicians do not care enough about patient care or safety to spend $200-400 dollars per year for the ABIM. This is what the benighted ABIM is up against! Senior physicians are nothing more than penurious whiners who fail to be appreciative of the Mothership.
For those cynics out there might cast a jaundiced eye on the image of the ABIM as the Mothership, let's not forget the sterling flotilla that the Mothership floats with. Recall that the ABIM rides in the wake of the American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS). Recall that both the ABIM and ABMS arose from the shipyard of the Amedican Medical Association (AMA) that produces the trademarked CPT procedure codes that Electronic Medical Record industry celebrates. Recall that Dr. Baron hails from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Recall that the former president of the ABIM, Christine Cassells, had an exemplary friendship with Premier, Inc, a North Carolina company that provides group purchasing and performance improvement consulting for an alliance of 2,900 hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Hospitals. With these kind of credentials, physicians should trustingly take their hands off the policy rudder and know that their profession is secure.
How could doctors doubt the purity of the Mothership? Given their tireless efforts on the behalf of physicians and our patients, we should, in fact, be holding a fund-raising drive for the ABIM! How can we be unsympathetic to the responsibility and burden of reimbursing the ABIM's necessary expenses, such as Doctor Baron's $800,000 annual salary or the bottom line of their testing agency? Don't doctors know that they are singlehandedly preserving the integrity of our specialties and subspecialties that the rest of us would squander willy nilly?
I'd like to reassure President Baron. It appears we've reached a tipping point. Physicians are starting to understand the need for active advocacy in protecting our patients and our medical profession. Disturbingly for the current regime who have commandeered the dignity of practicing physicians for their own benefit, there are appear to be heavy seas ahead.