This important post was penned by my colleague, Judith Thompson, MD, an independent breast surgeon in Texas who also serves as Practicing Physicians of America's (unpaid) Board Chairman:
As I learned to lobby, I went around with groups and watched/listened as individuals presented what they wanted a legislator to know. What I believe I saw was often one very bright group engaged in monologue with another individual or group which may or may not have been listening.Ohio, it's your turn. Don your flak jackets and take action. Give each legislator this ABMS MOC® Fact Sheet. It will be up to you to inform these Ohio legislators the truth about the corrupt ABMS Maintenance of Certification® program to assure passage of HB 273.
I made it my objective to engage in dialogue when lobbying.
I began by asking the legislator or their assistant, depending upon with whom I was speaking , if they were aware of the bill. If their answer was no then I would begin with an introduction of the bill and what my position was and why. If yes, then I would say what my position was and ask the individual if they had questions. This allowed me to focus on what the individual needed to know. At times I was asked questions for which I didn’t have answers. I made it a point to write that question down, get the answer and deliver it back to the legislator/assistant who had asked. I could see that that made a difference. Their countenance changed and they said “thank you”. Defensive listeners became receptive listeners.
My talking points were simple and clear and it went something like this:
It is not my nature to spend time pointing out the misconduct of others but in this case, we are remiss not to do so. As a result of the actions of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Osteopathic Association, both organizations are currently involved in anti-trust, discriminatory and civil-rights lawsuits. Please refer Wes’s MAINTENANCE OF CERTIFICATION® (MOC®) FACT SHEET.
- The American healthcare industry is in need of change and that those changes must accomplish at least one, if not all three of the following:
The MOC® product fails in all three.
- Improved patient access to physicians
- Improved safety or quality
- Reduced cost
- MOC® is a proprietary product that has no return on investment for physicians. It is an obstacle to healthcare delivery and can obstruct a physician’s right to work. Requirements for MOC® have been woven into physician licensing, hospital credentialing and commercial insurance contracts. As a result, if a physician chooses not to participate in what is falsely advertised as a voluntary program, then they may lose their license, credentials or commercial insurance contracts. This is hardly voluntary.
- The MOC® licensing cycle is so onerous and expensive, that mature, experienced physicians are choosing to retire rather than go through the recertification process again thereby worsening the physician shortage and extracting from the physician population some of the most experienced and knowledgeable individuals.
All of the sub specialty organizations require doctors to spend precious time entering data, under the guise of “quality metrics” in order to maintain board certification. What is done with data? Either sell it for a profit or use it for population management. To this, we must object and abstain, albeit at the risk of losing our ability to practice our profession.
What Ohio’s HB 273 will do:
- Improve availability of physicians and patients access to care. Especially in rural and underserved areas
- Prevents hospitals from requiring physicians to secure MOC as a condition of employment or having admitting privileges.
- Prevents third parties from requiring MOC® as a condition of contracting or payment.
- Prevents the “board” from requiring MOC® as a condition of being issued a certificate to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery.
Prepare to encounter opposition from special interest groups. These groups will spread misinformation and tell legislators that the MOC product is necessary to maintain high professional standards and protect public safety. When the ABMS is asked to produce evidence to support these statements, the evidence is of both poor scientific quality and contains conflicts of interest. With regard to maintaining high professional standards, there is no evidence to support this claim.
I suggest that you have a brief, direct, concise and simple message to deliver with facts without embellishment. My lobbying experience was so gratifying, that I truly believe I made a difference and am sure I’ll do it again.
TO DO LIST FOR OHIO PHYSICIANS
The Board of Directors of Practicing Physicians of America just approved travel for one of us to be there and provide support for the bill. See you there!
- Contact your OSMA executive director and tell them that you want the OSMA to strongly endorse OHB273
- Contact your OSMA District Counsellor with the same
- Contact your state representatives and senators with the same. Make phone calls and send emails
- If you can make time to go to Columbus to lobby, then make plans to do so. It would be very helpful if you can be there to testify on behalf of the bill
- I made it a point to meet the each committee member or their representative. You have 20 house members and therefore perhaps should divide the job between a group of physicians although I suggest you have no more than two or three physicians present for each meeting. Again, I did it independently which allowed for personalized conversation
- Here's a list of your committee members: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fztVEeI8OH3cfXGhz4xFFtglDlGhrQKD3ssyMDG8bWk/htmlview
- Ohio State Medical Association Toll-Free Telephone (800) 766-6762
- OSMA Local Telephone (614) 527-6763
- OSMA General Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ohio State Representatives Toll-Free Telephone (800) 282-0253
- Judy Thompson, MD
Addendum: At this time, it appears this bill will be heard sometime in September. If history is any guide, advance notice of the bill's arguments may be made with little advance warning. Stay tuned.