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Our annual Report by our legal arm, the American Health Legal Foundation
We just successfully completed our 74th annual conference, a wonderful gathering we held this year in Tucson. Founded in 1943, AAPS is the oldest organization that continues to defend freedom and ethics in medicine.
Our General Counsel presented there the highlights of our work in defending our medical profession, but please allow us to give you this written update. Much has been accomplished, yet much more remains to be done.
No organization works as hard as we do at AAPS to protect both you and our profession against the many encroachments on freedom in medicine. We are working overtime on many legal fronts to defend all good physicians.
Let’s face it: only AAPS, with your support, is going to save private medicine. Other medical societies have either given up in defending private medicine, or sold out to the dark side. We will never sell out.
We lead the fight against suffocating regulations. We lead the fight against Maintenance of Certification (MOC). We stand up against overbearing hospitals and medical boards. We expose the lies in “Single Payer” approaches.
In anticipation of our 75th anniversary next October in Indianapolis, we have redoubled our efforts on nearly every front. The time is now. We have been busier than ever fighting for freedom in medicine during the past 12 months.
Here is what we are already accomplishing, with your generous support:
- Stopping Maintenance of Certification (MOC) and other abuses of power by board specialty societies, which enrich themselves and their executives while burdening physicians.
We helped score a major victory against the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) earlier this year. We won two victories, actually, against this big bully.
First, we helped defeat ABIM’s improper lawsuit against a fine young physician who passed its certification exam and yet was deprived of board certification by the ABIM. The young physician was even sued by the ABIM!
The federal court agreed with our General Counsel and tossed out ABIM’s lawsuit against this physician.
Now we are helping the physician sue the ABIM and its executives for all the harm they have caused him. We prevailed in transferring this case to the physician’s hometown in Puerto Rico, where ABIM should appear before a jury.
We are also continuing our lawsuit against the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for perpetrating the MOC racket. ABMS insisted on transferring that case to Chicago, where we are proceeding to litigate it.
- Stopping wage and price controls. We have sued to stop the push for wage and price controls against physicians, which has begun in California and could spread to other states. Legislation entitled “AB 72” was signed into law last year there authorizing insurance companies to fix prices against physicians.
Specifically, the California law authorizes insurance companies to reimburse at only 125% of Medicare, even for physicians who did not sign insurance contracts, which is below cost for many services. We sued to overturn this law as unconstitutional!
Our lawsuit is the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Gov. of California, and Shelley Rouillard, Director of the California Department of Managed Health Care, 2:16-cv-02441-MCE-EFB (E.D. Cal., Sacramento). We cite three different constitutional violations by the law.
If insurance companies are allowed to price-fix for all physicians, then shortages and rationing would result. Reimbursements at levels below the cost of providing the service would become even more common if we don’t stop this.
Legislation similar to this is being introduced in many other states around our country. By suing to stop it in our largest state, we have highlighted the unconstitutionality of imposing price controls against physicians anywhere.
- Combatting sham peer review. Hospitals try to destroy many good physicians every year. We have helped win important precedents against “sham peer review,” which organized medicine first tried to deny was a problem until the number of victimized physicians became overwhelming and undeniable.
If you or a colleague becomes a victim of sham peer review, then there is only one place where you will find the experience and determination to help. Right here. And with your generous support we can continue to keep the overzealous hospital attorneys from completely destroying hospital-based practice.
In the past few months we had a tremendous victory in a case where we had previously helped our member prevail before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Now this physician has the right to put the hospital on trial, before a jury, for its mistreatment of him in a sham peer review.
We are also helping a physician in Florida who was victimized by the for-profit HCA, which wanted to eliminate independent physicians from its hospital medical staffs and then resorted to bylaws violations to do it. We have filed notice with the Florida Supreme Court that we will continue to defend the physician’s rights.
- Defeating harmful “reciprocity” by medical boards. Two of our members, with our assistance, recently overcame the unfair rule of “reciprocity” by medical boards whereby state medical boards typically refuse to grant a good physician a license if merely one state has suspended or revoked it.
A third member of ours then defeated one of the most overzealous medical boards in the country, attaining a total victory before an administrative law judge. The judge held completely in this physician’s favor and tossed out numerous scandalous charges against him.
- Helping physicians with arbitration agreements to avoid lawsuits.
The U.S. Supreme Court has increasingly upheld the use of arbitration provisions, and we are helping physicians use these to deter frivolous malpractice lawsuits. At our recent annual conference, we distributed a model one-page arbitration agreement for all attendees to consider.
We also filed an amicus brief this year in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, to defend an arbitration provision used by a member of AAPS. We are developing the expertise to help physicians like yourself avoid malpractice lawsuits, and be in the strongest position if such a lawsuit does occur.
- Protecting physicians against searches without a warrant. A member recently thanked us for the good advice we had given at one of our prior conferences about how to require a signed search warrant before allowing a search of medical records in your offices. The 4th Amendment protects against warrantless searches.
We previously helped set a good precedent against government intrusion into privacy in the case of United States v. Zadeh, where the Fifth Circuit established restrictions on access to patient records by the federal government. But attempts to seize medical records without a search warrant continue, and we need to continue defending privacy in medical records. We will.
Not much time remains for saving private medicine. With your help we can preserve our profession, but we must act now to keep freedom in medicine alive.
If you are ever in trouble, you will want the benefit of the work that AAPS is doing. But we need your support to stop the bullies before they stop you.
Other societies may give up, but we won’t. We will celebrate our 75th year of defending the practice of private medicine in the upcoming year, and we hope you can join us in Indianapolis for our annual conference next October!
In the meantime, please take advantage of the tax deduction by giving your money where it counts: to our American Health Legal Foundation. We accomplish more per dollar of donation than any comparable group. Thank you for your support!
P.S. Time is running out. A donation of $200 now, at this critical time, is worth more than a larger donation later. Thank you for stepping up at this essential moment by donating to save freedom in ethical medicine.
P.P.S. The sooner you can send a donation, the sooner we can put your generosity to good use. Your tax-deductible donation will enable us go the extra mile for private medicine. Please be generous so that private medicine may continue!