Thursday, April 27, 2017


Scandalous overreach by the proponents of Maintenance of Certification (MOC) invites investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and by Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

FTC should determine whether or not trade is being or is likely to be restricted by the tenets of MOC doctrine and its financial operatives. IRS, meanwhile, should examine whether or not the ABIM Foundation meets IRS 501(C)3 requirements. The question is whether or not there is reliable evidence that MOC revenue is being diverted into the pockets of selected individuals.

Many observers think that is the case and that the amount of money paid out in personal remunerations seems exorbitant. This finding forces the question, namely,  to what extent the ABIM Foundation is a charitable organization or a well heeled 501(c)3 enterprise. 

Here are some facts and figures:

The president & CEO of ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties), according to IRS Form 990, received total compensation of $779,487 for tax year 2013;

The ABPN (American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology) CEO in 2012 received total compensation of $843,591 -- according to IRS Form 990 for that year;

The ABIM (American Board of Internal Medicine), schedule J, Form 990, for 2012, reports base compensation for the president-CEO as $628,952;  

Reported base compensation for Senior VP/COO, ABIM, was $464,747;

Base compensation for the Sr. VP/CIO, ABIM, was $382,092;

Base compensation for the Senior VP/COO,  ABIM, was $326,520;

Base compensation for Senior VP/CFO,  ABIM, was $452,630.

-- not too shabby especially when one keeps in mind that these figures do not include income from what IRS refers to as "related organizations". In order to see this additional money jockeying, just go to Schedule J, IRS Form 990, and look at lines i and ii -- add 'em up and weep. Not to worry. Increased fees down the road re MOC will take care of any shortfalls. 

Readers are invited to check out this data by looking up Form 990 information. We expect to add to this report from time to time so stay tuned.  These figures show why MOC will not be easily vanquished -- the stakes are too high.

Monday, April 17, 2017


Senate Bill 562 enjoys the nickname of The Healthy California Act because it is intended to offer comprehensive health-care coverage to all residents of California -- it would be innovative as a single-payer plan for Californians. All the same the California Medical Association (CMA) is opposed.

By contrast the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) holds a more guarded position and currently is "watch" on this bill although it is widely thought that the majority of its physicians who are employed or salaried favor SB 562. 

The reasoning goes like this: California already has a state-wide program called Medi-Cal (the stateside version of Medicaid). This program is administered by DHCS (Department of Health Care Services) and is largely governed and funded by the federal program, Medicaid. SB 562 purportedly would expand this program to cover all residents of California. 

The chief argument in favor of SB 562 is that it would cut out the meddlesome middleman, namely, the insurance company. Supposedly so doing would reduce costs; however, there is nothing in the law that mandates passing on these costs reductions to the patient. More likely the savings in costs would find their way into the pockets of the corporate overseers in the form of increased corporate compensation. 

The argument stumbles on, akin to the United States Postal Service whose rates have gone up while its efficiency has not. What is more likely than not is that the single-payer system would simply declare certain expensive services out of bounds as was done in the summer of 2015 when cardiac pacemakers were put on a rationing status by requiring conditions beyond what most cardiologists would require, e.g., Big Gubbamint decided that Mobitz Type II syndrome did not require a pacemaker.

How about rationing? Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, Sections 3403 and 10320 are especially relevant -- these sections set up how a public policy committee will be set up within the ACA to keep costs down. 

The method used for Obamacare was to appoint a committee,  the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) whose job it would be to decide, once costs got too high, which services should  be curtailed. The IPAB as envisioned in the ACA will not report to Congress. The salary is expected to be about $165,000 each for 15 appointees (none will be elected). 

Trouble is that SB 562 envisions a similar mechanism, namely, "a public advisory committee to advise the board on all matters of policy for the program." The members of this committee would include 4 physicians (one must be a psychiatrist) appointed by the Governor, Senate Rules Committee, and two by the Assembly Speaker. It doesn't get more political than that, does it!?

Two appointees would be registered nurses appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules. One would be a dentist appointed by the Governor. One representative would be from the private hospital sector, also appointed by the Governor. Another appointee would be a representative of the public hospital system, appointed, wouldja' believe, by the Governor. Another would be a representative of an integrated health care delivery system, no surprise by now, also appointed by the Governor. There would also be other representatives appointed by the Governor, the Assembly Speaker, and the Senate Committee on Rules. 

So instead of a science-based advisory board, we'll be offered a "public advisory" board steeped in political intrigue. 

Under Chapter 2, Governance, we learn that there will be "Appointments to the board by the Governor, the Senate Committee on Rules, and the Speaker of the Assembly," to wit 

(A) "At least one representative of a labor organization representing registered nurses,"

(B) "At least one representative of the general public,"

(C) "At least one representative of a labor organization,' 

(D) "At least one representative of the medical provider community."

Does it escape anyone's notice that the first dictum above guarantees appointment of two RNs and that none of the provisions guarantees the appointment of an MD? The closest it comes to that is the statement about someone from "the medical provider community" but not necessarily an MD.

Notice also how the provisions outlined above tilt to labor, e.g., the two RNs are to be from "a labor organization representing registered nurses" AND "at least one representative of a labor organization" which makes at least three appointees from Big Labor. Not, come to think of it, that the insurance companies haven't earned this shift in appointee preference!

In referring to a piece done by the undersigned for the Indiana Daily Journal in 2009 it was mentioned that "the trap to avoid is restrictive utilization review such that we get Rationing Coupons as opposed to access to care." When this comment came to the attention of Stuart A. Bussey, MD, JD, UAPD president, he stated that "we will follow this bill 562 and suggest safeguards to avoid restrictive utilization."

Finally, that brings us to why unions might be interested in SB 562. On page two of the current draft still in committee, we read that "the bill would authorize health care providers, as defined, to collectively negotiate rates of payment for health services." 

We will no doubt continue this discussion as SB 562 walks, runs, or stumbles its way through the legislative process. 


"Single-payer health plan has its own disadvantages," Indiana Daily Journal, Franklin, Indiana, August 8-9, 2009

"Medicare versus the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)," The Weinmann Report,, June 29, 2015