From Dr. Fogel's announcement, it appears the Heart Rhythm Society is carefully choosing its words so as not to seem too adversarial to the ABIM by recommending (1) the removal of the requirement of being dual-MOC certified in BOTH cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology, (2) permanently ridding electrophysiologists of having to perform the busy-work of "practice improvement modules" and (3) "continuing the discussion" at a later time.
While Dr. Fogel's statement is pleasant and forthright, those are not exactly fighting words.
Dr. Fogel also announced a "debate" on MOC that will take place at the Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Sessions being held in Boston in May of this year. It will be moderated by Mike Gold, MD with Doug Zipes, MD as the pro-MOC advocate and Fred Kusumoto, MD taking the contrary argument. I'm sure the session will be well-attended and, who knows, maybe a few carefully-selected questions will be hand-picked from the audience! But will the "debate" do anything? No.
$4.9 million in registration fees the organization collects from its members each year for MOC review courses so they can pay their non-physician CEO's salary of $632,522 and Bill Clinton's public relations firm $897,580 to show up at the 2013 Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Sessions in Denver, Colorado.
Please note that the ABIM still has not publicly posted their 2014 Form 990 (due Feb 17, 2015). It is clear they want to wait as long as possible to do so. But even with an extension, the form must be filed by May 15, 2015, the day before the 2015 HRS Scientific Sessions end. It's very hard to have a "debate" on MOC when all the facts on the finances of the ABIM remain cloaked in secrecy, too.
Physicians should remember that just because the 0.5% incentive payment from Medicare to physicians who participated in the MOC ended 1 Jan 2014, it doesn't mean the coercive practice has gone away. Through their many political supporters, the ABMS made sure that MOC remained a component of the Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) as a part of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) "Physician Compare" initiative. The majority of US physicians are now employed by hospitals eager to compete for a growing number of newly-insured patients. As such, hospitals are increasingly requiring physicians to participate in MOC as a condition for gaining credentials in their hospital. By even pretending to side with any form of MOC, the Heart Rhythm Society tactically agrees that MOC may continue to coerce money from their own physician consumers for the their benefit and that of ABMS's constituents.
Let's be clear: MOC is not a doctor issue, it's a political issue.
It is remarkable that the US government is now the only government in the world that officially requires repeated "re-certification" of physicians for them to practice medicine. Thanks to MOC, it is also the only government in the world that acts as imprimatur to an unproven pay-to-play scheme.
Doctors are done playing this game. It's time for HRS to stop the faux debating and start aggressively acting on behalf of their membership.
The time to end MOC as a faux physician quality measure - all of it - is now.