November 2019 update:
A status hearing was held on November 4, 2019. The judge indicated the potential for a decision to be issued in January 2020.
August 2019 update:
AAPS vs. ABMS has been reassigned to the Honorable Martha M. Pacold.
April 2018 update:
On April 5, 2018, AAPS filed a Brief in Opposition to ABMS’ Motion to Dismiss:
January 2018 update:
On January 16, 2018 AAPS filed an “Amended Complaint with Class Action” in AAPS vs. ABMS.
The full complaint is available at: http://aapsonline.org/AAPS_v_ABMS_Amended_Complaint_1_16_2018.pdf
December 2017 update:
The federal court in the Northern District of Illinois has granted leave to the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS) to provide more detail as to how Maintenance of Certification (MOC) harms patients. AAPS v. American Board of Medical Specialties, 14-cv-2705-ARW (N.D. Ill. Dec. 13, 2017). Because antitrust laws exist to protect consumers, not competitors, the court is requiring further specificity as to the harm to patients that is allegedly inflicted by MOC.
In addition, the court wonders if the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and other MOC-related organizations have any control over insurance companies to require MOC as a condition of participating in their plans. To the extent anyone is aware of a specific relationship between ABMS and insurance companies, or a mechanism by which ABMS may have some influence with insurers, then please let AAPS know.
July 2017 update: While AAPS vs. ABMS is in a holding pattern waiting for the district court to proceed there have been other important advancements in the battle to stop MOC.
An important victory was won against the ABIM when a federal judge in New Jersey threw out the ABIM lawsuit attacking Dr. Jaime Salas Rushford. AAPS General Counsel, Andrew Schlafly participated in the effort to defeat the ABMS suit and the counter suit by Dr. Rushford against the ABMS is proceeding. Learn more at: https://www.doctorsjustice.com/
A suit brought by osteopathic physicians against the AOA and its mandatory membership requirement tied to recertification, “is set to proceed to discovery in a fraud and antitrust suit in the District of New Jersey after a federal judge in Camden denied the association’s motions to dismiss a suit by doctors.” Learn more: https://www.duanemorris.com/site/osteopathclassaction.html
We anticipate other lawsuits will continue to be brought against the organizations profiting from MOC at the expense of patients and physicians.
AAPS has been advocating for state-based legislation to stop MOC requirements. In May 2017, Texas passed the strongest law to date. Visit the following link for a state-by-state overview and model legislation: https://goo.gl/fnS22T
February 2016 update: The AAPS vs ABMS lawsuit is still alive and we are awaiting Court action to proceed. In addition to AAPS vs. ABMS there are now two additional new lawsuits concerning physicians and certification that are pending. We will share more details about all three cases as they become available.
December 2014 update: We are awaiting a decision by the U.S. District Court in Chicago on Defendant ABMS’s motion to dismiss. The AAPS brief in opposition to motion to dismiss reads in part, “The motion to dismiss by ABMS depends on its implausible denial that it is not maximizing its revenue by compelling participation in MOC, even though it has numerous agreements with other entities to impose MOC “requirements”. ABMS’s implausible denial does not justify dismissal.”
Read the full brief here: http://aapsonline.org/AAPSvABMSresponse-6-3-2014.pdf
October 24, 2014 update: The Court, “sua sponte” (on its own initiative), postponed the hearing that was scheduled on October 9 .
September 14, 2014 update: A hearing in AAPS vs. ABMS will be held October 9, 2014 in Federal District Court in Chicago, Illinois.
July 28, 2014 update: A Wall Street Journal Article of July 21, 2014 reports: “The ABMS also says it has arranged with some 32 major health systems, including the Mayo Clinic and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, for their own in-house quality improvement projects to satisfy some MOC requirements for their doctors.” This reported statement by Defendant ABMS is contrary to its position in this case, which is that hospitals are somehow acting independently of ABMS in imposing MOC requirements.
Read more in the AAPS July 28 letter to the U.S. District Court: http://aapsonline.org/AAPSvABMS-july-28-2014-letter.pdf
June 15, 2014 update: AAPS filed a brief with the U.S. District Court in opposition to the ABMS motion to dismiss. Our brief reads in part, “The motion to dismiss by ABMS depends on its implausible denial that it is not maximizing its revenue by compelling participation in MOC, even though it has numerous agreements with other entities to impose MOC “requirements”. ABMS’s implausible denial does not justify dismissal.”
Read the full brief here: http://aapsonline.org/AAPSvABMSresponse-6-3-2014.pdf
May 23, 2014 update: In the AAPS lawsuit against the American Board of Medical Specialties, the court granted the motion for a change in venue, and the case is proceeding in federal court in Chicago. Your continued support will help us secure a win in this crucial case. Thank you! Check back for updates.
The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS) has filed suit April 23, 2013 in federal court against the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for restraining trade and causing a reduction in access by patients to their physicians. The ABMS has entered into agreements with 24 other corporations to impose enormous “recertification” burdens on physicians, which are not justified by any significant improvements in patient care.
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ABMS has a proprietary, trademarked program of recertification, called the “ABMS Maintenance of Certification®” or “ABMS MOC®”, which brings in many tens of millions of dollars in revenue to ABMS and the 24 allied corporations. Though ostensibly non-profit, these corporations then pay prodigious salaries to their executives, often in excess of $700,000 per year. But their recertification demands take physicians away from their patients, and result in hospitals denying patients access to their physicians.
In a case cited in this lawsuit, a first-rate physician in New Jersey was excluded from the medical staff at a hospital in New Jersey simply because he had not paid for and spent time on recertification with one of these private corporations. He runs a charity clinic that has logged more than 30,000 visits, but now none of those patients can see him at the local hospital because of the money-making scheme of recertification.
There is a worsening doctor shortage in the United States, such that the average physician has the time to spend only 7 minutes with each patient. Roughly half the counties in our nation lack a single OB/GYN physician to care for women. There are long delays to see primary care physicians in Massachusetts, and about half of them are not even taking new patients.
Money-making schemes that reduce access by patients to physicians, as “maintenance of certification” does, are against public policy and harmful to the timely delivery of medical care. AAPS’s lawsuit states, “There is no justification for requiring the purchase of Defendant’s product as a condition of practicing medicine or being on hospital medical staffs, yet ABMS has agreed with others to cause exclusion of physicians who do not purchase or comply with Defendant’s program.” AAPS adds that ABMS’s “program is a moneymaking, self-enrichment scheme that reduces the supply of hospital-based physicians and decreases the time physicians have available for patients, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.”
ABMS does the public an additional disservice by inviting patients to search on which physicians have “recertified” and which ones have not, despite the lack of evidence that there is any difference in malpractice rates between the two categories. ABMS should try to make money by helping patients, rather than disparaging the many thousands of good physicians who spend their time caring for patients rather than on ABMS’s self-serving recertification scheme.
A recent survey by AAPS showed that only 9.5% of 167 respondents thought that “maintenance of certification is good; we should support it.” In an earlier survey, only 22% of physicians who had been through the process said they would voluntarily do it again.
AAPS’s lawsuit, which was filed today in Trenton, New Jersey, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to enjoin ABMS’s continuing violations of antitrust law and misrepresentations about the medical skills of physicians who decline to purchase and spend time on its program. AAPS also seeks a refund of fees paid by its members to ABMS and its 24 other corporations as a result of ABMS’s conduct.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943.