Over the weekend, the Executive Vice President and CEO of the American College of Physicians (ACP), Steven Weinberger, MD, sent an email to update their members about the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. In that email, Dr. Weinberger said that "the ABIM MOC program continues to be an area of concern for many ACP members, so I'm writing to update you about ACP's ongoing work in this area and our efforts to improve ABIM's MOC process. I also want to reassure you that reforming the MOC process continues to be a top priority for ACP."
It appears the ACP is happy with applying more lipstick on the ABIM MOC pig. It is sad that the ACP, an important primary care physician professional organization, continues to side with the grossly corrupt MOC program marketed by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
But the email didn't stop there.
Rather than take accountability for actions like accepting grants from the corrupt ABIM Foundation that grew from the covert collection of physician re-certification fees, the ACP has instead decided to re-define what it means to be "accountable" by "updating" its "Professional Accountability Principles." By doing so, it appears the ACP continues to believe such self-proclaimed edicts will appease their membership and they should just look the other way and be reassured that the ACP has their membership's best interests in mind.
Of course for practicing physicians, it now appears clear that nothing could be further from the truth.
True accountability involves meaningful reform and transparency and consequences when the trust of their practicing physicians is violated. Given what we now know about the interconnected non-profit lives of the ACP, the ABMS, the ABIM, and its Foundation, we are seeing the underbelly of a patronage system that benefits the leaders of these organization with little regard for practicing physicians.
For instance, does the ACP acknowledge the money they received from the ABIM Foundation to "promote awareness in the area of internal medicine" and offer to refund these funds to their members in a gesture of apologetic good will?
Does the ACP offer to ask the ABIM why there is no concern of what happens to patients who lose their ability to receive care from a physician because the corrupt MOC program fails them and they can no longer practice their trade or retain hospital credentials?
Does the ACP have any concern whatsoever about the unaccountable self-appointed nature of bureaucratic non-profits who can change their policies to meet their own needs instead of the needs of practicing physicians without recourse from their membership?
By continuing their insistence on "reforming" the corrupt MOC program, the ACP risks becoming just as irrelevant as the ABIM.
So here's my suggestion how internists can help the ACP define "accountability:" resign their membership and don't renew. Then the ACP might learn what real "professional accountabilty" as defined by their membership really means.