This weekend, at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, the ACC and the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) announced their commitment to the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) continuous certification financial shakedown of US cardiologists and cardiac electrophysiologists. Taking a playbook from the American Medical Association, their leadership has realized the financial milk and honey for their business rests squarely alongside the business interests of US hospitals and the powerful device industry, not the physicians for whom they pretend to advocate.
So they have reached out to their academic colleagues, many of whom are medicine's leading industry thought leaders, teachers, and spokespersons, to create yet another Maintenance of Certification (MOC) testing "pathway" (called the "Continuous Maintenance Pathway" (CMP)). This "pathway" requires purchase of the ACC Self-Assessment Program (ACCSAP) to extract cash from their own colleagues and more vulnerable, younger cardiologists. As always, failure to participate some way with "continuous certification" will always be met with the threat of pulling a cardiologist's credentials to practice medicine if they don't comply. The CMP will only be valid if physicians continuously purchase the ACCSAP study materials. How much will that cost? Well, the ACCSAP used to cost a cool $400 per year and the 2019/2020 prices have yet to be announced, but was promised to be "less than $500 annually").
And why not?
With its Harry Houdini-like balance sheet where over $25 million in assets exactly matches its expenses, we see the value of numbers to the ACC. We also see, like the ABIM, the "value" of a Foundation.
The ACC Foundation has $113,934,622 revenue (and $231,442,569 in assets), over one third of which funds the organization's salaries. The ACC Foundation has also created the ACC Political Action Committee (the ACC-PAC) under the umbrella of the Foundation, "as part of a multi-pronged approach to expand its advocacy program to support incumbent and prospective candidates who are supportive of patient access to care and promotion of quality cardiovascular care."
You are reading that correctly. Leveraged MOC dollars and the fees paid for physician education materials will now be used, in part, for the ACC's support of political candidates.
But if that's not enough, there's this little gem.
In 2018, the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) published a revision of program requirements for accredited internal medicine residency programs. At the same time, the Internal Medicine Board had decided to revisit the procedural requirements for graduating residents, presenting a timely opportunity to make changes to these requirements.With the announcement yesterday of the CMP physicians will be required to perform two tests, one given by ACC and one given by ABIM EVERY YEAR and much of it for their political gain.
If this new collaboration between the ACC , HRS, and the ABIM sounds problematic to you, you might want to join our effort to end this shakedown of your dollars for political purposes.