Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why the ACP needs to comment on the ABIM scandal

It has been now over four months since Dr. Wes Fisher’s post on the ABIM luxury townhouse and since Dr. Charles Cutler’s debate with Richard Baron: events which began the exposure of the details of the ABIM financial scandal. 

It has now been roughly two and six weeks respectively since Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek articles on the ABIM and its financial scandal.

While they have commented on the maintenance of certification process at the ABIM, the American College of  Physicians - which regards itself as the organization for internal medicine - has yet to issue a statement regarding the ABIM financial scandal or its details. On the ACP advocate blog  (authored by Bob Doherty, ACP’s head lobbyist) over this period of time, one can read about not just the recent SGR saga, but also handguns, and on his twitter feed he shared a story about the POTUS and the new Surgeon General addressing the “health effects of climate change.”  However, nowhere is there any coverage of this huge story, a scandal that directly affects internists.

So:  Handguns and Global Warming from the ACP, but not a word on these very serious allegations of fiscal impropriety at the certifying board.

How can this be? 

Some suggest that the ACP has a conflict of interest in that they profit from test prep materials and courses. 

Some also suggest that there is a revolving door, of sorts, between many of these organizations.  A case in point:  the former longtime CEO of ABIM, Christine Cassel, has listed on her bio at the National Quality Forum that she is a Master of ACP and former President of ACP.  So far as I know, no one at ACP has publicly questioned her leadership while at the ABIM.  

For the moment, however, put aside these thoughts.  Moral courage (to overstate the ethical requirements in this case, certainly) is not doing the right thing when it easy and profitable.  Quite the contrary, courage is doing what is right when it is difficult, or otherwise against one’s personal interests.

The ACP should do what is right on behalf of its current and potential members and publicly express concern about the allegations of financial mismanagement at the ABIM. At some point, the failure to condemn is to condone.  That point, if not yet behind us, will be past soon. 

In the end, can a voluntary organization afford not to speak on behalf of its dues-paying members when the cause is right?


Newsweek articles: