An Important Message From the ACC President on ABIM MOC and SGR Legislation

Dear ACC Members,

As you know, we are on the brink of a historic Senate vote that would permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that has created well over a decade of instability for our patients and our practices. The bill to be considered, H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, is a well-vetted piece of legislation that was developed in a bipartisan, bicameral manner and enjoys the support of ACC and virtually all of organized medicine. This consensus legislation passed the House two weeks ago with an overwhelming level of support- 392 members from across the political spectrum. We now must push the Senate to act.

We have issued multiple calls to action for you to contact your legislators. With over 6,000 messages to the Hill from members of the ACC alone, the response has been unprecedented and impressive. In recent days, we have seen speculation and misinformation that is a potentially damaging distraction from this critical effort.

The facts are clear. H.R. 2, supported by the ACC, does not require participation in maintenance of certification (MOC), nor does it establish ABMS, ABIM, or any specific entity to administer MOC. No one would be forced to participate in MOC.

Rather, H.R. 2 would establish a framework to streamline the current array of quality reporting and incentive/penalty programs. One element of the program would address clinical practice improvement activities. The legislative language cites examples of the types of activities that CMS must offer as options, including but not limited to activities such as patient centered medical homes, expanded office access, population health management, and practice improvement activities undertaken as part of physician certification or recertification. Any physician choosing to pursue MOC would be allowed to count MOC activity toward the clinical practice improvement portion of the new quality incentive program.

This bill represents an opportunity to stabilize Medicare payment policy, begin the essential transition from volume to value, and streamline quality reporting programs. H.R. 2 is a significant improvement over current law and we cannot allow this opportunity to slip away.

I urge you to join me in continuing to press the Senate to pass H.R. 2 as quickly as possible upon their return from spring recess. The ACC has heard directly from congressional staff that senators are seeking opinions this week from constituents on H.R. 2 to determine how to vote on this legislation. Senate staff in Washington are tallying the number of calls and letters to determine if support from the states is significant enough for them to vote in favor of HR 2. There are just a few days left to convince the Senate to finish the job.

I encourage you to contact your senators now and tell them to take up and pass H.R. 2 – even if you already have done so. Take 30 seconds to send a pre-populated letter or call their offices at 800-833-6354.

For talking points to use in your conversations, click here.

We must not be distracted. We must continue to deliver a strong and unified message to convince the Senate to act.

Sincerely,

Kim Allan Williams, Sr., MD, FACC
President, The American College of Cardiology

2 thoughts on “An Important Message From the ACC President on ABIM MOC and SGR Legislation

  1. Dr. Williams,
    The ABMS MOC program has been staunchly supported by the ACC. In fact, ACC15 Scientific Sessions devoted more time to MOC training than scientific sessions. Working physicians are now fully aware of the financial malfeasance of the ABIM and the ABIM Foundation who re-certify cardiologists on behalf of the flawed Maintenance of Certification program. We are aware of the cronyism that exists between the ABIM and National Quality Forum. We are aware of $2.3 million condominiums with chauffeur-driven BMW series town cars purchased by the ABIM Foundation on a portion of $30.6 million of our testing fees funneled from ABIM to their Foundation between 1998 and 2007. To think, even for a moment, that working doctors are going to support HR2 when it allows ABMS to remain a medical registry for quality data reporting in the bill is simply not okay. Support of this program supports coercion, tax fraud, and even potential violation of protection of human subjects clauses in the collection and non-secure transmission of patient survey data to the ABIM. Our residents and fellows deserve a program that is not a financial shakedown.

    Working doctors will not support a bill that is laced with references to sections 1848(k) and (m) that involve ABMS and their MOC program as one of the medical registries for this bill. Either modify it in conference or kill it and get it right with another bill.

  2. I have read the 263 page HR2 bill. It allows CMS and its secretary to rank/score doctors using its own quality determination methods, and these scores will be used to adjust physician payment.

    I’m embarrassed that the ACC, a physician professional society for which I’ve been a member, and who has dedicated itself to advancing quality, would support any bill that allowed the government to continue its futile attempt to measure it. Every single quality metric (Meaningful Use, EHR, Physician Quality Reporting System, etc…) that the government has implemented in recent years has been an absolute disaster in practice. The government has established no credibility in this regard, and absolutely no leniency should be granted to them in HR2.

    The government-run quality metrics have contributed almost nothing to quality, and in many instances have stiffened it by adding meaningless bureaucratic requirements.

    What the ACC political activists should have been lobbying for over the last few years is to remove the government entirely from this quality measurement disaster. Who in the world really thinks that the government can best manage and define healthcare quality in this country? Who thinks that? Not one physician I know.

    Yet, our physician professional societies have demonstrated little backbone on the political front regarding the one issue that is well-agreed upon by every physician on the front lines–the fact that CMS has no business being involved in “measuring” or “scoring” physicians.

    It’s the eleventh hour, and the “DocFix” is not a fix at all. MOC is a disaster and by itself contaminates any continuing medical education requirements forced upon doctors by HR2.

    The entire HR2 driven scoring system on physicians should be expunged until the MOC crisis and quality assessment disaster is rectified.

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