U.S. Justice Department Supports More Board Certification Options for Physicians
On September 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a landmark opinion about physician board certification that bodes well for the medical industry and patient care in general. In a letter responding to a pending Maryland bill promoting competition in physician certification, the DOJ stated that the maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) may result in decreased competition that increases the cost of healthcare services to consumers.
At the crux of the DOJ’s opinion is the monopoly on physician certification that the ABMS wields in Maryland. When a certifying body holds a monopoly, the DOJ argues, it “may have incentives to adopt certification requirements more stringent than those necessary to verify that providers have the knowledge and skills required of specialty practice and the ability to deliver quality care.” By imposing “unnecessary requirements,” the DOJ says, the ABMS, “can raise the costs of specialty practice and constrain the supply of specialized practitioners.”
In recent years, MOC requirements have come under increased scrutiny. Many physicians familiar with MOC question whether current ABMS MOC programs correlate with better patient care. As the DOJ wrote in its opinion, “critics have pointed to literature suggesting MOC’s purported benefits are unsupported by evidence.” Yet MOC continues to place severe demands on physicians’ time in addition to the burden of financial costs resulting from fees. According to the DOJ, Maryland should consider ways to promote competition “by legitimate certifying bodies, consistent with patient health and safety.”
Competition is one of the core principles of the American economy, and vigorous competition among certification boards can give patients the benefits of better healthcare, more innovation, and lower prices. As one of the three primary, multispecialty certifying organizations in the United States and one that is a recognized competitive choice, the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) welcomes the DOJ’s opinion.
The ABPS believes that, by offering qualified practitioners more certification options, they will also have the flexibility to choose the board that is most consistent with their values and best fosters their career development. At the ABPS, our testing requirements are stringent. Only the most skilled and dedicated physicians become Diplomates. Any physician who has earned certification through one of our Member Boards has demonstrated mastery of the core competencies required to deliver exceptional patient care in an evolving and increasingly competitive healthcare marketplace.
For more information about the ABPS, or our eligibility requirements, contact us today.