Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against the American Osteopathic Association

From the Philadelphia Business Journal:
A group of osteopathic doctors have filed a class-action lawsuit against the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) seeking to recover millions of dollars in annual membership fees that the doctors allege they have been forced to pay for years to the organization.

The money, according to their complaint, is paid as a condition of obtaining and maintaining physicians’ board certification in any advanced medical specialty. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J., contends the requirement that they purchase memberships is illegal, has no reasonable connection to the advanced certification and violates the antitrust laws.
The AOA forces hefty annual membership fees to the paid to "maintain certification" and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) assures fee payments to themselves by changing lifetime "board certification" to a time-limited credential without proof of patient benefit - both are variations on the same monetary theme.

This new class action suit adds to the politically-connected Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)'s growing "Maintenance of Certification" headache. First, it was the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) with their 24 member boards (including the ABIM) having an antitrust lawsuit filed against them. Now, its another member of the ACGME, the AOA, seeing similar legal action.

Who will be next?

When more details of this corrupt "Maintenance of Certification" program surface, I suspect there will be many more lawsuits. No wonder the ABIM Foundation moved $6.5 million of ABIM diplomat's assets offshore to the Cayman Islands: legal battles.



Anonymous said...

a nice template for the ABIM suit to be filed by the Pennsylvania medical association

Anonymous said...

We are all made of flesh and blood. We are mortal with limited time to serve patients and live our lives. The AOS demands their annual pound of flesh and pint of blood. It is outrageous that we have time-limited certifications at all. The notion that continuous certification and membership are tied together and mandated makes no sense. This extortion must end.

"The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J., contends the requirement that they purchase memberships is illegal, has no reasonable connection to the advanced certification and violates the antitrust laws."

AOS certification
AOP continuous certification

Ed Rico said...

The one thing you can count on is that the AOA, much like ABIM/ABMS, will insist with a straight face that physician participation in their "services" is 100% voluntary and therefore doesn't represent coercion or unfair restraint of trade.

Just like sleeping and breathing is voluntary.

SUE THE ABIM said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Baron et al,

Anonymous said...

Good point Wes. The Cayman Island/Ireland money laundering was probably a way for the ABIM and the ABIMF to try to shelter their assets from the tsunami of litigation heading their way. Although it wasn't smart since it only takes a Court Injunction to liquidate those assets. Alternatively, anyone can file a lien against the ABIM's assets. If the ABIM and the ABIMF lose their lawsuits against Salas, the AAPS, and hopefully the PAMED Society, it will open the floodgates with the State Statutes all cemented into the folks in Oklahoma, Kentucky et al.

We should crowdfund Dr. Arora to countersue the ABIM and Dr. Cassel. Put a lien on her California mansion.

What's up doc? said...

Where have all the doctors gone, long time passing . . . long time ago . . .
(What's the future plan? You have to think like a ruthless CEO to know!)

NYIT Salutes New Osteopathic Physicians at Annual Hooding Ceremony

May 23, 2016

Nearly 300 NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) graduates received their doctoral hoods on May 23 at a ceremony where they were urged to welcome medical advancements made possible through Big Data, mobile technology, and DNA sequencing, among other areas.

Keynote speaker Christine K. Cassel, M.D., planning dean of the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, stressed how Class of 2016 NYITCOM graduates are about to jump into “a river of change,” and that they should lead by serving as healers, scientists, team members, and good citizens.

“You’ll need to embrace change and adapt to it as medicine holds unpredictable advances,” said Cassel, a leading expert in geriatric medicine, medical ethics, health policy, and quality of care. She received an honorary Doctor of Science at NYIT’s 55th Commencement on May 22. “Remember always that your goal is not just better medicine but healthier people to make lives better throughout the world,” added Cassel.

NYIT Christine K. Cassel Keynote speaker, full article
Cassel and the Kaiser Schools

Cassel Vision of Korporate Kare said...

Meet the new Kaiser Doctor of Science.

Christine K. Cassel
Planning Dean, Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine
Doctor of Science

Kaiser will open its school in 2019 with 50 students and expand that to 300. Focus will be on tech, changing medical science and practice, even going into homes to learn how to affect behavioral changes for patients to be healthier. Kaiser has 600 residents currently. Kaiser 38 Hospitals nationwide. 80% of business is currently in CA. (Currently)

DO's in their class action suit should perhaps not forget to include the ABMS, ABIM, ACGME, and Kaiser Permanente (and throw in some pro med bureaucrats like Christine Cassel) just in case they all have plans to muscle in or change things without informing physicians and the public. In a couple of years the term DO might not even exist except as a relic of an archaic past. MD's are in danger too of it all becoming DK (Doctor of Kaiser.)
The ABMS and ACGME are looking to expand or control the market of "providers."
This is an alarm bell (not an actual blueprint) to look at the current trends and patterns. One must learn to think like a ruthless administrator to see where it is all going. The individual physician whether they are family practice, plastic surgeon, rheumatology or whatever are not important to the bold new face of medicine that "they" have in mind for us.

DO executives do not have much clout to change things and they are entwined with the AMA, ACGME, etc.

Totally Illegal said...

"The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J., contends the requirement that they [AOA candidates and diplomates] purchase memberships is illegal, has no reasonable connection to the advanced certification and violates the antitrust laws."

It might be a good idea if some serious, motivated physicians talk to the union boss that went after Kaiser and Christine Cassel about how to organize and fight. He successfully fought Cassel and Kaiser over egregious conflicts of interests and to ensure employee rights and benefits. More importantly so patient care is not compromised with rigid Kaiser cost cutting. are not shorted on their Kaiser-rationing program of care and employee/staff conditions do not limit or restrict phycians' obligations and capacity to care for their Kaiser plan patient.

Get a team of lawyer/investigators that are exceptional at busting criminal cartels like the ABMS and its sidecar - the ABIM. Use powerful attorneys that know how to use the press. Class action civil action in federal court. Or whistleblower complaint. $$$ will flow in.

Inform presidential campaign managers of the 'pay for play' scam and get a commitment from the candidates if elected will he or she put an end to the waste and trade restraints. Votes will pour in from physicians if he/she goes public with an announcement to ensure that mandatory MOC ends immediately. Anything less than a commitment to physicians and patients who are suffering would be disingenuous and reveal the degree of integrity the candidate or candidates has.

That plan and commitment should include ending immediately the very wasteful MOC scam.

Dr Jeckyll and Madame Kaiser said...

"What is it like trying to design a school of medicine in 2016? Could you talk about that process? How might that differ from when you went to med school?"

"CASSEL: Well, it’s going to be very different. The first thing I want to do is give a lot of credit to the Kaiser Permanente group primarily in Southern California, but involving other regions as well, who have been working on this for a number of years, exploring the possibility and coming to the point where the Kaiser board agreed last fall to go ahead with it. It isn’t that there is a totally blank slate. There is a lot of very thoughtful work that has already been done, but there are a lot more questions to be answered, so it will be very different. One thing is that their goal is to keep it quite small and have personalized approaches to students, to make sure that student wellness is as important as patient wellness. I went to medical school in the old days when it was really like boot camp and you were expected to work really, really hard and never complain. Nowadays, there is a lot of burnout and depression among medical students and residents, and so Kaiser is very committed to the principle that you can’t take good care of patients if you don’t take good care of yourself. It’ll be really interesting to work with other people in medical education to figure out how to focus on the principles of adult learning so that you’re not just putting people in classrooms and feeding them lots of information that they will remember only until the next exam and then forget, which all too often was what people in my generation experienced. There are some really exciting new ways of thinking of interactive learning and getting students much more engaged with what they’re working on."

Cassel never really left the Kaiser board as promised. She cheated and influenced the board for years continuously - even personally with her cronies appointing the new CEO/President of Kaiser Permanente, Bernard Tyson. Information flowed between Kaiser, the Board and the White House


C-span video 29:51 PCAST ABIM Cassel and 39:25 Kaiser CEO Tyson


Anonymous said...

MOC is snake oil in the "sign here"/"pay me now" digital online cart.

Anonymous said...

A physician has no choice except to sign the ABMS / ABIM pledge or they will not work and their family will not eat. They will be living in a tent foraging or begging for coins on the street. Yet a physician who signs the "ABIM pledge" is about to sign their lives away forever stuck to a lifelong payment scam, with the likelihood of arbitrary sanctions, and even worse - civil and criminal prosecution. More money paid to the shameless organization just for the privilege to be ruthlessly punished by them.

Violent felons and shysters write the rules of the game for these medical cartels with the blessings of congress, the DOJ and IRS who all turn a blind eye to the injustice. Elite medical executives can break laws of the land protecting all citizens and get away with it, because we do not fight it smartly with sufficient resources and participation.

Now there is no choice but to fight and win.

Anonymous in California said...

Please go after those crooks at ABIM next. And then start looking at the state medical licensing boards - they are equally full of corrupt individuals whose only goal is to torture physicians. Start looking and open Pandora's box....

Justin said...

Great! How do we join the class?

Dan Stock said...

The important thing to remember is that these boards only became important because insurers used them as a bargaining chip against doctor groups and hospitals, and could do so because we designed a market that made individuals need insurers for everything. We all know that medical competence can't be tested, because the definition of "good care" is in the hands of the patient ultimately, and anything that takes the decision away from patients reduces the patients' choice of the care they get. And between Boards, Insurers, Congress and the Executive branch they already have enough choice limitation. The only solution to these groups ganging up on providers is providers ganging together in unions, at least until everyone realizes that group negotiation hurts all sides in a free market where the negotiated goods (medical advice) is consumed at the individual level, and we all agree to cease the practice on behalf of both patients and providers.

Beau Brainard said...

Re: Given the ever increasing annual dues in the face of both an ever increasing AAP administrative size AND the AAP's unwillingness to act in our behalf with the ABP, I think we all have a tipping point at which membership no longer makes sense.

Re: All the boards that have retroactively changed the covenant under which diplomats have become certified are reaping the natural benefits of their dishonorable behavior.

H.F. Brainard, MD, (for now) FAAP

DrWes said...

Justin -

All DO's will be part of the "class" unless they opt out. Here's a link to the webpage from the Plaintiff's attorneys' website that explains the process: http://www.duanemorris.com/site/osteopathclassaction.html#tab_FAQ


Anonymous said...

Finally! I'd have joined this class action at the outset if I'd had the opportunity. I have always felt that I was being sponged by AOA dues as well as my specialty board dues each year in order to remain certified.

Anonymous said...

MD surgeon can be a member of ACS and maintain board certification without being a member of the AMA.

DO surgeon MUST be a member of the ACOS and the AOA in order to be board certified. Seems the AOA just wants to squeeze dollars out of specialists. Coercion? Collusion? Seems illegal whatever it is.

Anonymous said...

I am board certified until 2018 but since I let these memberships go the AOA and abos won't verify my certification. I paid thousands to certify and was not able to obtain hospital privileges because of this. I have lost income, I welcome this class action lawsuit.the aoa and aobs are crooked . Cosby the past CEO made millions by squeezing DOs that already struggle for acceptance.

Anonymous said...

It's about time

Anonymous said...

As a board-certified (ABIM) osteopathic internist, it's a pleasure to see the AOA in court. They're a small-time, pugnacious, hypocritical, inbred club in need of demolition and reconstruction from the ground up. All I can say is Attaboy!(or girl! as the case may be) to whomever led the way to the lawsuit. What took so long for the DO community to finally decide they'd had enough? The AOA is without question the single most powerful force opposing ostoepathic opportunity in the US with their support of the 4 states who refuse to license residency-trained and board-certified physicians who have not completed another utterly useless, self-serving, extortionary mandate, the rotating osteopathic internship. If osteopathic rank and file physicians can win the suit, overall AOA leadership top to bottom at both the national and state levels, and end the rotating internship requirement, they'll have taken a meaningful step in establishing their profession on the lofty ground it deserves. Until then, the AOA remains the DO's single most formidable foe.

Justin said...

Previous commenter: I agree with this lawsuit, and most of your points. However, the rotating internship is NOT the problem. MDs used to have to do that too, and it's not a bad thing. It makes us better doctors. It should be brought back for MDs and DOs alike.

The problems with the AOA are:
1) Mandatory membership.
2) Time limited board certification.
3) Asinine CME requirements.
4) Elimination of alternative board certification pathways.
5) Shilling for the federal government's interference with private healthcare.

Most of these are problems with the allopathic organizational framework, too. I'm proud of osteopathic physicians for standing up and saying "ENOUGH!" I highly encourage all MDs and allopathically certified DOs to stand up similarly to the allopathic powers that be. So far, they haven't done so in an organized, unified manner.

Anonymous said...

It gets worse. I just found out that the AOA screwed up the taxonomy code for the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine specialty which gives the private insurance companies a way of ignoring our certification. It also means that many of us have been paying dues for a useless board certification for decades!