ABMS weighs in on DOJ’s input on Maryland MOC bill

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has issued a statement that addresses a September 10 letter that the Antitrust Division of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) wrote to a Maryland state legislator who sought DOJ’s input on a bill that the Maryland legislature is considering that would “restrict hospitals, health plans, and others from making their own independent judgments about the value of board certification in the credentialing of physicians.”

The ABMS statement explains that, “The request appears to have been motivated by [the physician legislator’s] objections to the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program of physician certifying Boards that are members of [ABMS].”

AMBS maintains that, “The MOC program is designed to help assure that physicians [who are] certified by ABMS Boards are committed to a program of lifelong learning, are keeping up with developments in their medical specialties, and are maintaining their medical knowledge, skills and expertise. The MOC program was put in place to advance the best interests of patients.”

ABMS also notes that it is “pleased that the DOJ letter encourages the Maryland legislature ‘to continue allowing hospitals and insurers independently to decide whether to consider a physician’s MOC status when making business decisions, such as granting hospital privileges’ and ABMS strongly agrees with the conclusion of the DOJ that enactment of the Maryland bill could ‘harm, not improve, the competitive landscape of health care in Maryland.’”

And ABMS stresses that, “Like the DOJ, ABMS supports and encourages a competitive marketplace for specialty certification. [However, it is] concerned about deception of patients if physicians are permitted to market themselves as ‘Board Certified’ based on certification by a Board whose standards do not rigorously assess medical knowledge and maintenance of skills.”

ABMS concludes that, “While we continue to work with physicians and specialty and medical societies to ensure our programs do not become overly burdensome, we are proud that our certificate represents the highest standard of knowledge and assessment currently available. Accordingly, ABMS continues to welcome an accurate comparison of our programs to other certification programs currently in the marketplace, and we continue to support the right of patients and health systems to determine which program best meets their expectations for high quality specialty care.”

Click for ABMS statement

In a related development, the Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission (Vision Commission) recently reviewed a number of recommendations that were submitted by the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Council on Medical Education that address how MOC needs to change to “meet the needs of diverse stakeholders” – keeping in mind that AMA and ABMS held a joint meeting on the subject in March.

The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) has played a key leadership role in the effort to reform MOC, as MAG Executive Director Donald J. Palmisano Jr. is a member of the Vision Commission.

The Vision Commission is “responsible for assessing the status of continuing board certification and making recommendations to help enable the current process to become a system that demonstrates the profession’s commitment to professional self-regulation, offers a consistent and clear understanding of what continuing certification means, and establishes a meaningful, relevant and valuable program that meets the highest standard of quality patient care.”

The Vision Commission will submit its final recommendations to ABMS and its Member Boards on February 1, 2019.

Contact Palmisano at dpalmisano@mag.org with questions related to the Vision Commission or MAG’s efforts to reform MOC.

Click for summary of August 29-30 Vision Commission meeting

Click for Vision Commission MOC feedback/input form

Click for Vision Commission website