Monday, December 30, 2019

ABIM Antitrust/RICO Lawsuit Notice of Appeal Filed

Today, the official Notice of Appeal was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Pennsylvania. It appears the ABIM's legal headaches regarding Maintenance of Certification (MOC) are far from over.

Working physicians can help the plaintiffs in their David-versus-Goliath effort to end the unproven American Board of Medical Specialties' MOC program by contributing to Practicing Physicians of America's GoFundMe page created on their behalf. We have almost reached our $400,000 goal. (Your contribution may be tax deductible before year's end - please consult your tax advisor.)


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Just In Time for Christmas: The MOC Legal Juggernaut Intensifies

With the recent back-to-back announcements that the class action antitrust and racketeering lawsuit against the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the antitrust lawsuit against the American Board of Radiology were dismissed (e.g., the ABIM announcement and ABR announcement), doctors everywhere - both young and old - seemed resigned to the fact that they will have to be subjects to lifelong extortion of private American Board of Medical Specialties member boards and their affiliates if they wanted to practice medicine in the United States.

But fear not, dear colleagues. I bring you tidings of great joy. The first great Supplemental Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit against the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) was filed yesterday that promises to renew the call for justice on the basis of proper legal procedural grounds:
Defendant American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (“ABPN”) illegally ties its initial certification product, which it sells to new doctors to demonstrate completion of their medical education and assess the quality of their residency program, and its MOC product, which it requires some older doctors, but not all, to purchase throughout their careers to demonstrate lifetime learning or forfeit their initial certification. ABPN brings to the court’s attention Kenney v. American Board of Internal Medicine, No. 18-5260, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164725 (E.D. Pa.Sept. 26, 2019) (“Kenney”), and Siva v. American Board of Radiology, No. 19 C 1407, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200645 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 19, 2019) (“Siva”). Kenney came first, followed by Siva which “agree[d] with the reasoning in Kenney.” Id. at *11.1

Nothing in those opinions changes ABPN’s unlawful conduct. A critical reading of the opinions and application of the universally accepted rule that well-pleaded factual allegations and all reasonable inferences therefrom must be taken as true compels the conclusion that Kenney and Siva were, respectfully, wrongly decided.
1  The tying claims in Kenney were dismissed with prejudice without plaintiffs being allowed to amend, the court finding as a matter of law that separate products could never be alleged. Plaintiffs are appealing that ruling. The claims in Siva were dismissed without prejudice and plaintiff is filing an amended complaint on January 10, 2020.
The supplemental opposition to the ABPN motion to dismiss then outlines multiple legal reasons why the plaintiffs believe the decisions were wrongly decided. In essence, the attorneys are arguing that the facts in this case were not even allowed to be considered past the judges' chambers.

We can anticipate that the multitude of moneyed interests behind Maintenance of Certification will stop at nothing to assure this unlawful program continues unchecked.

Still, a bit of hope and cheer is always welcome for working physicians this time of year.

Merry Christmas!


P.S.: On a separate legal note:

Remember the Puerto Rican physician, Jaime Salas Rushford, MD, whom the ABIM revoked his board certification and dragged him through the court system since 2012 with a dismissed time-barred cheating claim while the President and CEO of the ABIM simultaneously failed to disclose her conflicts of interest with Kaiser and Premier Inc? Yesterday, the judge issued the following order to expedite the counterclaim suit filed against ABIM by Salas Rushford:
The American Board of Internal Medicine may file its motion for judgment on the pleadings no later than December 18, 2019. Dr. Salas-Rushford will respond no later than January 2, 2020. The Board may reply no later than January 9, 2020. The case schedule will be discussed at the scheduling conference to be held on January 31, 2020. Signed by Judge Francisco A. Besosa on 12/11/2019. (brc) (Entered: 12/11/2019)
It seems that case will soon be coming to a head, too.

Readers wishing to support the brave physician plaintiffs involved in these lawsuits trying to end the unlawful Maintenance of Certification program are encouraged to contribute to their GoFundMe campaign.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

ABIM's Dark Side Needs More Light

From the recently filed "Objections to Deadlines due to Completion of Discovery" by Plaintiff Jaimie Salas Rushford, MD in Puerto Rico Federal Court comes public evidence of mafia-like tactics used against physicians by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to protect their certification testing monopoly:

(Click image to enlarge)

So to summarize some of what has transpired at the ABIM to maintain their physician testing monopoly:

  1. The ABIM secretly created the ABIM Foundation in 1989 for the purpose of laundering over $70 million of physician testing fees from 1990-2007 for various personal and political agendas, including the purchase of a 2-bedroom luxury condominium, art collection, and offshoring of Cayman Island retirement funds.
  2. They published a white paper in 2002 in two major medical journals, the Annals of Internal Medicine and the Lancet, entitled "Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter" (which, given these revelations, should both be retracted in my opinion).
  3. They used a strongman convicted of impersonating a police officer and carrying an unregistered firearm as their Director of Test Security with access to physicians' most sensitive personal information.
  4. They forced a physician who admitted to wrongdoing to pay $15,000 to remain board certified on the condition that physician also serve as an informant.
  5. They continue to drag a vulnerable physician through the court system for what will be at least eight years to maintain their monopoly and hide the truth.
The American Board of Internal Medicine needs to be held accountable to working US physicians and the public for their actions. I believe their irresponsible and undisclosed financial and political dealings, paired with these mafia-like tactics, deserve full transparency and appropriate judicial scrutiny. 

Physicians deserve better. The public deserves better.

It's past time we shine a bright light on this racket.