Doctors unified in their fight over Maintenance of Certification

Like Washington politicians and the rest of the country, doctors are often divided over issues. But one area where they’ve been able to get a consensus is their battle over Maintenance of Certification (MOC).

That issue has made them angry enough to join together in a unified effort, according to Medscape. Doctors, often through their medical societies, are demanding relief from mandatory MOC requirements from state legislatures. Both hospital credentialing and insurance network membership is often tied to MOC, which proponents say keeps doctors up-to-date and protects patients.

Grassroots doctor organizations have sprung up to press state legislations to adopt laws that ease or eliminate those MOC requirements, according to Medscape. They include groups such as the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons, American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, Practicing Physicians of America (PPA) and the Association of Independent Doctors.

Currently, proposals are pending in at least 17 states to ban mandatory MOC requirements by hospitals and insurers.

However, the efforts of doctors and their medical societies face opposition from the American Board of Medical Specialties, which sets the standards for physician certification in partnership with 34 member boards, as well as hospitals and health insurers in their states.

"It's a David vs Goliath battle," Westby Fisher, M.D., director of cardiac electrophysiology at NorthShore University Health System in Evanston, Illinois, and co-founder of PPA, told the publication.

A survey of 4,600 physicians last year, found that 81% report that MOC activities are a burden, regardless of specialty, practice size, geographic area, years in practice and level of burnout.

RELATED: Survey: Vast majority of docs say MOC is a burden

Doctors argue the need for board recertification requires they pay costly fees to take tests that are too frequent. And if they live in a state where hospitals and insurers require recertification, doctors don’t have an option, Fisher said.

For instance, Meg Edison, M.D., a pediatrician in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who writes a blog called Rebel MD, decided not to pay to recertify her American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) certification. "They say recertification is voluntary. So I said, 'Let's see how voluntary it is’,” she told Medscape.

She was removed from a database of board-certified pediatricians on the ABP website and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, the state’s largest insurer, contacted her about her lack of board certification and sent letters to her patients that she was no longer a provider in their network, she said. She paid $1,300, plus a $200 late fee, and was board certified again. She says the only alternative for doctors is to change the law in states where MOC is mandatory.