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Physician Objections to Maintenance of Certification Requirements

MOC OppositionPhysician specialists have begun to voice their objections to the recent implementation of maintenance of certification (MOC) rules that make it more difficult to maintain active physician board certification credentials. Whereas the member boards of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS®) require recertification after eight years, and other board certifying bodies in North America used to require 10 years between recertification exams, MOC rules require physician specialists to successfully complete exams every two or three years.

One of the biggest complaints against the MOC rules was put forth in a lawsuit filed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons against the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The suit complained that MOC rules restrain trade, potentially harming the careers of physicians. One example cited in the lawsuit was a New Jersey physician who lost his hospital privileges because he had not complied with MOC rules to keep up his physician board certification in Family Medicine.

More than 16,000 physicians have signed an online petition expressing their objection to the MOC rules and requesting that board certifying bodies that have implemented these rules rescind them.

One of the potential major drawbacks of the new MOC rules is that they could contribute to worsening the physician shortage. How? Physicians near retirement age, or who have spent decades under the previous board certification rules that required only occasional recertification, might forego MOC and simply retire. Another potential problem is that rural areas will be under-served by physicians because if hospitals and insurers require MOC, it will become even more difficult to attract young, well-qualified physicians to those areas.

Perhaps the biggest issue physicians have with MOC rules is that they will make maintaining board certification far too burdensome. Whereas the ABPS member boards give physician specialists a reasonable, eight-year period between recertification exams, MOC rules force physicians to devote far more time and effort to the maintenance process than actually caring for patients. In addition, physician specialists who are board certified through the ABMS can become recertified through the ABPS if they meet the eligibility requirements for their particular specialty exam.

For more information about the ABPS and its member boards, contact us today. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty board certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®