Friday, March 09, 2018

ABIM and the ABIM Foundation: Consumer Fraud?

Early Tuesday morning I attended an excellent continuing educational video-conference hosted by Paul Friedman, MD at the Mayo Clinic at our institution. Anyone who knows Paul knows what an excellent educator and mentor he has become for electrophysiologists around the world. The case involved patient that was a CRT failure, the workup of that condition, the decisions made, and how they handled the case using His bundle pacing, with some pearls about that physiology. I attended the conference voluntarily and without coercion because of the excellent educational value it provides me yet I received no continuing medical education credit (CME) or ABMS Maintenance of Certification (MOC®) credit for doing so.

Because I wasn't scheduled to start a case after that, I then attended a lecture on pulmonary hypertension and its management delivered by one of our cardiology fellows. That lecture was  sanctioned by the University of Chicago as qualifying for CME credit, but not MOC. It, too, was excellent, and refreshed my understanding of the various oral and intravenous therapies available to treat this disorder. I then traveled to another hospital to perform three procedures.

ABIM Website - Click to enlarge
Later that day between cases, I had a colleague who has been forced to re-certify in April of this year and perform MOC® modules lest he lose his credentials to practice at our hospital, look up my publicly available information on the ABIM website for me, and there I was: certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Cardiac Electrophysiology, but not participating in MOC®.

I know most of the long-time readers of this blog are probably thinking that I should wear that "Not Participating in MOC" designation as a badge of honor, but I look at this very differently.

This designation on their website does not include my CME credits (which the ABIM co-brands with their MOC product) and suggests to the public that I "don't keep up" in my field. By co-branding MOC® with CME, they suggest they are equivalent, but they clearly are not. Not participating in certain CME offerings can't remove me or my partner from my job, but not participating in MOC® can. And if MOC is so important to the ABIM and its corporate cronies in the ACGME heirarchy (inlcuding the powerful hospital and ABMS lobbyists), how am I advertised as "certified" yet not participating in MOC®? This is confusing to the public and makes no sense, particularly when we see the fighting going on at the state legislative level over the "need" for forced "continuous education" of physicians.

Yesterday, I was also tipped to this (seen at the right): an event hosted by the Jewish
Health Activist Network Announcement
(Click to enlarge)
Healthcare Foundation entitled "Spreading and Sustaining the Choosing Wisely Campaign" to be held on Thursday, April 12, 2018 from 5:30PM to 7:30PM in Pittsburgh, PA. The ABIM Foundation's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Daniel Wolfson is the keynote speaker. "Following his comments, Mr. Mark DeRubeis, CEO of the Premier Medical Associates, and Mr. Jim Coslow, Director of Value Based Care, will share how - and why now - Premier has embraced Choosing Wisely."

We must recall that the ABIM has no money on paper, and all of their remaining assets reside with the ABIM Foundation who is speaking and promoting their marketing campaign at our expense at this program. All of their funds come from working physicians' certification and re-certification fees (with the exception of a few grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). The ABIM Foundation has nothing to do with physician certification, as evidenced by this notice. They have a different mission than assuring physician competence - rather, to promote the next physician payment model of value-based care for themselves.

The ABIM does not place our continuing education credits on their website, yet lists us as not participating in MOC. They call me "certified" publicly on their website, yet the ABIM and my hospital consider my colleague somehow less qualified because he didn't participate in MOC® and pay his money, but are more than happy to continue billing on his behalf in the meantime. Through regulatory capture, the ABIM forces my colleague to take the ABIM MOC® test in April, while not forcing me to do the same and promoting me as "certified" on their website. If my colleague should fail (he won't, just speculating), then me and my colleagues would have to manage his patients and take call more frequently when he is removed from our staff. In effect, there is a multiplier effect if one doctor doesn't recertify on other physicians.

I know this is a strong statement, but given these realities and given what I know about the ABIM Foundation (especially how it received its funds) and its financial shenannigans that include the purchase of a multi-million dollar personal condominium, off-shoring of funds to the Cayman Islands, its many public tax filing discrepancies, I believe the ABIM and ABIM Foundation are engaging in consumer fraud when they post my MOC® status as they do and claim recertification is about physicians "keeping up." As others are noticing, their monopoly on this lucrative product  should not allow them to be qualified tax-exempt organization either.

I believe MOC® is a shell game that deceives the public about the quality of their physicians on a massive scale. It's time to just say no.



Anonymous said...

If they are practicing consumer fraud, is there an agency a complaint can be lodged against the ABIM? The more heat on them from various agencies will drain their funds and bring more light to the problem.

DrWes said...

Hmmm. Perhaps the US Consumer Protection Agency? Better Business Bureau?

Anonymous said...

The ABIM its shady side-car foundation are engaged in public fraud and consumer fraud.

Petras said...

Sounds like consumer fraud to me, if not worse.

If you go through the BBB you will work with the CFO via written correspondence on resolving any issues you may have until you reach a resolution that is acceptable. The complaint gets posted for all to see.

It is a big deal when ABIM gets complaints from clients via the Better Business Bureau. It will not be their first.
I highly recommend to file with the BBB about the unscrupulous practices of the ABIM and for physicians to at least leave reviews.

Illicit Politicization of Non-Profits said...

Daniel Wolfson, ABIM Foundation VP and COO has reaped millions of dollars, stuffing it into his obscenely fat individual investment accounts (and received untold moneys in personal perks) from the outrageous politicization of the American Board of Internal Medicine and its Foundation.

If anyone doubts the collusion between the ABMS (MOC MONEY MAKERS) and other key NGOs such as the American Hospital Association and ACGME, the following charming press release (just one example) tells us a great deal about the ongoing scheme to defraud the American public and the profession of medicine with politicking, self-dealing and profiteering. These organizations promote policies in behalf of themselves and their corporate beneficiaries - the ones in complete control of the medical boards.

It is shocking given all that we know about Christine Cassel and her kickbacks from Premier, Inc and Hospital/Payer Keiser Permanente, that Daniel Wolfson is presenting Choosing Wisely along side Premier, Inc. in Pittsburge in April. Does Wolfson have no shame?

Apparently Dr. Baron has no qualms either by thrusting his poliltical ambitions and partisan platforms onto the world using the ABIM and its Foundation as a political pogo stick. The man who got it wrong really has no shame either.

Both "punks" Baron and Wolfson continue to ride their skateboards all over the sidewalks of medicine and beat physicians and the public over the head with their scams.

MOC and Choosing Wisely are examples of illicit politicization of a non-profit along with the sweet personal corporate rides (salaries, investments, and personal perks) provide by highly conflicted medical boards.

Cassel walked away with millions after ten to fifteen years of stealing physicians' hard earned money stuffing most of it into their personal piggy banks and the big piggy bank that supplemented their over the top incomes - the ABIM Foundation.

Baron and Wolfson (and Cassel) are money grubbing thugs with refined airs and a arsenal of potent propaganda (and corporate sponsorship) to keep the whole system of mayhem and racketeering going.

What the ABMS and their cronies are doing is tantamount to the biggest heist in the history of healthcare.

Why isn't this fraud being investigated and prosecuted. Where is the public outrage to get that ball rolling!

Anonymous said...

Putting the scarlet letters (not participating in MOC) above Westby Fisher, MD's certifications is a lie and an example of the fraudulent deceptive practices of the ABMS.

I suggests everyone fight this and say no to the ABMS MOC Ponzi scheme.

Have the executives put behind bars. There is no place in medicine for such corruption and abrogation of morality, while skating around the laws of the land. A common man or woman is prosecuted daily for much less offenses.

Here we have educated elites with such cunning, the extent to which, Lucifer himself would be especially proud of.

DrWes said...

Anon 04:36 PM CST:

Mr. Wolfson is presenting along side the CEO of Premier Medical Associates, not Premier, Inc. To the best of my knowledge, they are not related.

Nun said...

Whether the corporation that the ABIM and its Foundation partner with is an insurance-driven corporation or data-driven company, it is strange that their cronies/associates are typically named "premier" or something of the sort. And they will generally be elitist highly controversial companies and relationships. (We are not talking about the employees/physicians but the corporate executives and their controlling entities who set political and financial agendas.)

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in hearing Daniel Wolfson's explanation Dr. Cassel, former ABIM CEO, and her undisclosed multi-year board relationship with (and stock payout from) Premier, Inc. in connection to the highly irregular structured payments (annual round numbers paid in the millions by ABIM) to CeCity, which was bought out by Premier, Inc. for 400 million dollars.

I'd like to hear Daniel Wolfson's story from his own mouth about the relationship of the ABIM, ABIM Foundation, Christine Cassel, Dr. Baron, and the other executives/staff with CECITY, Premier, Inc, and if any ABIM Foundation money transfers back to the ABIM paid for any of the highly conflicted dealings of the ABIM with CeCity/Premier, Inc.

We certainly know that the ABIM Foundation paid out handsomely to the tune of millions of dollars to pad the incomes of executives such as Cassel, Baron, and Wolfson's entire exorbitant paycheck and benefits. How can these highly irregular special dispensations to executives be justified? Especially when the hefty executive overhead at the medical boards is causing them to go into the red. MOC assessments levied against physicians props up their insufficient certification revenues. Foundation money, how it was controversially acquired and what it is spent on, needs to be fully addressed.

Call Dr Andrea Russo MD FHRS said...

Andrea Russo MD is an HRS figure who is on the ABMS commission. I ask all doctors especially EPs to call her and remind her that she is obligated to pander to her constituency. Let's hope Dr. Russo does not sell out her profession or her sub speciality.

This is her office # 856-757-7848

MOC BLOC said...

I don't understand why the boards don't end MOC. It is a total disaster. It costs so much more to administer than a simple lifetime certification, which is all that is needed. States take care of CME better. There really does not need to be a repository board such as the NBPAS that pays the ABMS to verify what is publicly available anyway. Plus MOC is not just suspect of being a waste of time with no merit, it is now clear that MOC and the ABMS "MOCster Mandate" has negative value and does harm to patients and physicians.

Todd R. said...

Is this not an attempted political assassination of Dr Fisher on the part of the ABIM? Are they hoping he will do something unwise in response to cripple himself and his hospital/insurance relationships and then go in for the kill?

I remember how they sent in that Wall Street attorney to bully Wes using the media. A sabre rattling letter of threat. What was his name Bumgarten? And that felon with all the aliases that the ABIM hired to intimidate and strongarm businesses and physicians. Mannes with all the first and middle name changes to confuse online searches and make it hard to find criminal records and court history.

The ABIM and ABMS are quite a piece of work!

Your MOC Dollars at Work Defrauding the Public and Covering It up said...

Hillary Clinton actively lobbied on health care as secretary of state (emails, reports)

ABIM unreported lobbying expenses (timeline) April 27th, 2009

HRC 2009 timeline, April 27th - May 30th, June 3rd - July 16th, Aug. 15th - Oct. 8th, Dec. - Jan. 2010, etc., activities secretary of state 2009, 2010, 2011

HRC 2009, June - July/Aug. working from home after falling and breaking arm

CKC 2009, Aug, Healthcare Reform for the Dying

ACA timeline

1999 Restructuring Medicare, Christine Cassel

1989, 1999, the great collusion, W. Fisher

2015, June, Christine Cassel and Robert Wachter discussing ACA and NQF's role, plus referencing the Chuck Denham kickback scandal involving ChloraPrep recommendations and kickbacks to Denham from Cardinal Health/Carefusion.

2016, HRC's personal physician does not participate in MOC.

2016, Wes Fisher's seminal report on the obvious corruption at the ABIM and ABIM Foundation

Financial Controversy or Tax Fraud said...

ABIM and ABIM Foundation's belated IRS tax reports are always late always it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to present financial results, not as they are in reality, but rather as the ABIM/ABMS wish to present themselves to the public.

This takes a great deal of tweaking and ommission as we can see in the following:

Anonymous said...

All who present with the ABIM and its Foundation must contribute their fair share of cleverly devised propaganda to support the deception. Typically they have similar slants on how good, progressive, and fair they are with tremendously inflated projections of their positive effect on society. The going rate billed to clients for such fluff is a minimum of a million dollars per annum.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Other than place complaints to the better business bureau or US consumer protection agency, I hope this post and a letter is being sent to the Yale Medical Society and the UMass to see what both society's think of Dr. Baron and Dr. Cassel and do they agree with MOC. This was, each society has to make a judgment call on one of their alumni and either agree to the shady dealings of both or denounce them. Does this blog need to be sent to Bernard Tyson CEO of Kaiser to see if he agrees with Dr. Cassel's questionable past? Does a letter need to be sent to Dr, Richard Issacs head of TPMG for Kaiser and does he feel that Dr. Cassel should be appointed a dean of the new Kaiser medical school to make more vulnerable doctors to fuel the ABIM? Either way, these individual if they stay quiet are then complicit with the crimes. If the agree with them, then they are accomplices. If they disagree then we know where the allies to medicine are.

P. said...

greased palms

Drew said...

ABMS, ACGME, AMA and ACP executives are little more than a collection of liars devoid of integrity serving as a propaganda ministry for undeclared special interest groups and powerful entities within the medical industrial complex.

Appolon said...

It's not just egregious conflicts of interest at the ABMS, it's full-blown collusion without even a blush of shame from this collection of self-appointed, self-dealing liars!

Raleigh said...

It is sad that the American Board of Medical Specialties, especially their strongman flagship the American Board of Internal Medicine, have fallen short of their aims and professed values. They have let everyone down. Even my children just shake their heads.

The most conspicuous failure to me is they no longer inspire doctors by offering a lifetime voluntary medical certification. Presently they just make everyone perspire in agony, sweating and moaning without end in sight over MOC. The ABMS hoodwinked everyone, including their low level staff members that come and go. The lifers like Dr. Baron have been at the ABIM since 2001. Time limited board positions have turned into silk roads to personal fortunes.

They ABMS "B.S.ers" all use their positions to get rich off slick newly created foundations and research subsidiaries, while staying in the finest digs purchased at the expense of hard-working phsyicians who were too overwhelmed to notice the sickness that was overtaking the medical boards. But not anymore. The physicians and patients are fed up with the lies and the public deception and absolute abuse of power.

Why do they keep insisting on shoving a useless testing product down everyone's throats? These ersatz medical scientists and pseudo politicians at the ABMS ironically trademarked their twisted product under the brand name MOC. What a mockery of the medical profession and themselves they make. What a MOCkery they make of certification.

Truly these ABMS emperors are wearing no clothes and it is embarrassing that they keep pretending. They make fools out of themselves with their invitation-only commissions and task forces that meet behind closed doors in an attempt to prove relevancy, but to only themselves.

The ABMS has outlived its usefulness. MOC stuck a knife into the only thing they had going which was lifetime certification. They poked several big holes in their integrity. Time for the DOJ to shut these frauds down and it is overdue for the IRS to revoke their tax-exempt statuses.

Cheaters and duplicitous "thought leaders" such as Rich Baron and Christine Cassel have no place in the medical profession. I really want these selfish phonies out of our lives forever.

In the Land of the Free? Unreal said...

What strikes me most: executives and board members act like little dictators organizing sham elections in order to keep the ABMS greed and power structure going. Unhealthy Ponzi schemes!