This Friday, 23 October 2020, oral arguments will be heard before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Kenney et al vs. the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) class-action antitrust, racketeering, and unjust enrichment lawsuit (Case 20-1007). Some eyes of US physicians and all the eyes of the US certification industry will be on these arguments, even though the oral arguments are, for all intents and purposes, little more than theatre since written arguments have been fully briefed on both sides.
But the stakes for working US physicians and the physician certification industry could not be higher. Since the introduction of Maintenance of Certification® (MOC®) in 1990, ABMS board certification and lifelong re-certification have evolved into a $1 billion enterprise annually in the United States, nearly all of it funded by US physician-paid fees leveraged by coercive tactics and the monopoly on US certification enjoyed by the ABMS and its member boards.
As this week unfolds,
- Let us not forget the accusatory physician sanction letter sent by the ABIM to thousands of vulnerable residents who attended an ACGME-accredited board review course with "concerns about their ethical and professional behavior" and promising to "place a copy of this letter in their file."
- The unilateral revoking of ABIM board certification for three years that occurs without trial if the ABIM deems a physician does not "maintain moral, ethical, or professional behavior satisfactory to the board."
- Let us not forget the strong-arming convicted felon who served as the ABIM's Director of Test Security and his work at the shady test security firm Caveon after orchestrating a raid with Federal Marshals on a physicians' home to seize computers and private email lists of physicians.
- Let us not forget about the young physician who the ABIM pursued and accused of "cheating" - only to lose their case - and whose countersuit continues against the ABIM in Puerto Rico for the past seven years and counting.
- Let us not forget the numerous tax form discrepancies (fraud?) published by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the Foundation over the years, that included misstated date of origin of the ABIM Foundation, the indulgent purchase of a $2.3 million personal condominium, undisclosed lobbying efforts, and off-shoring of millions in physician testing fees to the Cayman Islands.
- Let us not forget that the ABIM has never allowed an independent audit of their finances as stipulated by the AMA House of Delegates.
- Let us not forget the reporting of Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek on the ABIM and their finances here, here, here, and here.
- Let us not forget that physicians must agree to an adhesion contract that requires them to be research subjects without their informed consent.
- Let us not forget that physicians' board data are sold by a subsidiary of ABMS for profit.
- Let us not forget about the cool $1.426 million dollars paid to the CEO of ABIM and the ABIM Foundation in 2018.
- And let us not forget that, in the end, this lawsuit is really about the integrity of US Medicine and the justice working US physicians deserve.