Healthcare Costs & Patient Access to Care Threatened by Physician Certification Monopoly

Academic Research Supports Antitrust Enforcement of the American Board of Medical Specialties

Nationally recognized antitrust attorney, Adam Candeub, publishes research supporting antitrust enforcement of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Candeub a recognized antitrust attorney as well as law professor at Michigan State University finds that the ABMS, a nonprofit organization, maintains anticompetitive activities within physician board certification that not only limits patient access to care and stifles innovation but contributes to the overall rise in healthcare costs.

The study titled, The American Board of Medical Specialties: Certification and the Need for Antitrust Enforcement, conducted over 8 months, supported by over 85 documents and numerous references, demonstrates the negative impact the monopoly of the ABMS has had on the U.S. healthcare system.

“Certification succeeds in raising the standard of care and is supposed to be a voluntary program not linked to a physician’s license. What I found truly objectionable, is how the ABMS’ anticompetitive activities shut out other, highly respected organizations that provide the same services. There must be competition in certification to ensure higher standards of care and patient access to it,” stated Adam Candeub, Professor of Law, Director of IP, Information, Communications Law Program, Michigan State University. “The impact of ABMS activities resulting in limiting access to care, not based on licensure and skill, even during the COVID-19 healthcare crisis is reprehensible.”

The White Paper, underwritten by the American Association of Physician Specialists Foundation (AAPSF), reveals how the monopolistic actions of ABMS are choking off critical access to health care across the country, including turning away top-notch licensed physicians during the COVID-19 crisis.

Critical findings in the White Paper include: the collaboration between the congressionally funded Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the ABMS and its complete control of residency programs throughout the country, which forces physician residents into the ABMS organization only; the influence and control of hospitals’ hiring practices of ABMS board certified physicians only; the monopoly resulting in the overbearing and costly maintenance of certification program; and the ABMS influence on insurance company reimbursements, just to name a few.

“As physician leaders, we have an obligation to always raise standards in patient safety and care, dutifully providing education and training to the medical profession and the public,” stated Madonna Ringswald, D.O., FAAIM & President of the AAPSF. “Discrimination and anticompetitive activities of the ABMS have hurt patient access to highly skilled and licensed physicians for way too long. Professor Candeub’s findings demonstrate a far larger control of physicians from education to retirement than the industry and public even imagined.”

CMS 2016 reports found the greatest increase in healthcare cost is in physician and clinical services. Additionally noted and according to the 2016 ABMS Tax Filing outlined by Kroll Research, the nonprofit ABMS entity reported over one billion in assets, and CEO compensation of over eleven million with only their top ten boards reporting. Physicians choosing another organization are punished through discriminatory actions for not choosing ABMS.

The White Paper concludes that the ABMS has grown tentacles that reach into every aspect of a physicians’ livelihood—from residency, to hiring practices, to insurance reimbursement, access to advertising and rights to commercial free speech, hospital privileges, and the ability to work with Medicaid and Medicare patients. These restrictions on doctors ultimately harm patients, who face higher prices and more restricted choices.

Legislators, regulators, and prosecutors can help increase competition in the healthcare industry by taking concrete steps to break the ABMS’ monopolistic hold.

Click here to access and download the White Paper.

ABOUT the American Association of Physician Specialists Foundation:
Founded in 2008, by physicians, the American Association of Physician Specialists Foundation (AAPSF) is a national, 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to improve the quality of medical care and services by providing education and training to the medical profession and the public in the areas of health and medicine.