This week's issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) contains an editorial from Robert Shor, MD, Chair of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Board of Governors entitled "Addressing the Maintenance of Certification Crisis Calls for Working Together." The editorial touches on the relationship of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and that "ACC-sponsored polls have shown that the vast majority of cardiologists have concerns about the validity, relevance, utility and associated financial and opportunity costs of meeting these revised (MOC) requirements."
Importantly, the editorial also mentioned several other well-known facts: that new 2014 MOC rules established by the ABIM that "required newly graduated fellows who have successfully completed their initial certifying examination to also sign up for ABIM MOC or be listed as "not certified."
Fortunately for our most vulnerable new cardiologists, the ACC is pressuring the ABIM to revise this policy that financially benefits the ABIM exclusively. It seems the ABIM will stop at nothing to monopolize the recertification market for themselves.
While the ACC Leadership under Dr. Shor 's direction seems sincere, his letter ignores the financial cover-up at the ABIM, specifically the fees that were funneled from the ABIM to the ABIM Foundation from 1989 to 1999, the lavish salaries of the officers and staff there, and the fact the ABIM remains has a balance sheet that is over $47 million in the red. Instead, the chooses to "be cautious because we realize the complexity of the situation." Dr. Shor continues with a half-truth, saying: "In the interim, all of us have alternatives. These include joining a new board, waiting to see the final ABIM proposal, and waiting to see if an alternative ACC board is feasible and/or needed."
Because of the regulatory capture created by the ABMS and their demand for "recertification," contrary to Dr. Shor's statement practicing physicians do NOT have a choice avoid ABIM recertification. Practicing physicians cannot "wait." Practicing physicians MUST continue on their ABIM recertification pathway lest they lose their hospital privileges or aren't allowed to participate on insurance panels to receive payment for services.
We should note that after revealing ABIM lobbying efforts that were not disclosed the ABIM's tax forms on 31 May 2015, the ABIM terminated their relationship with their lobbying firm on 30 June 2015.
It is increasingly clear that the ABIM and the ABMS have constructed a lucrative money stream for themselves thanks to "recertification" at the expense of practicing physicians. Recertification after initial certification still has no Level A evidence that it improves patient outcome or care. Instead, as clearly documented on this blog and elsewhere, recertification has been proven to be a corrupt and potentially illegal process that demands thorough investigation by the IRS, Iowa and/or Pennsylvania Attorney Generals, and the US Attorney General or the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
This is where the ACC should insist on action. It is simply not in keeping with the highest standards of medical ethics and integrity to collude with organizations that have shown themselves to be working in their own interests over those of practicing physicians and their patients everywhere.