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ABIM contests class-action lawsuit, asks judge to dismiss


 

Attorneys for the American Board of Internal Medicine have asked Judge Robert Kelly of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against the board’s maintenance of certification (MOC) program.

The legal challenge, filed Dec. 6, 2018, claims that ABIM charges inflated monopoly prices for maintaining certification, that the organization is forcing physicians to purchase MOC, and that ABIM is inducing employers and others to require ABIM certification as a condition of employment.

The four plaintiff-physicians are asking a judge to find ABIM in violation of federal antitrust law and to bar the board from continuing its MOC process. The suit is filed as a class action on behalf of all internists and subspecialists required by ABIM to purchase MOC to maintain their certification. On Jan. 23 of this year, the suit was amended to include racketeering and unjust enrichment claims.

In a motion filed March 18, attorneys for ABIM asserted that the plaintiffs fail to prove that board certification – initial certification and continuing certification – are two separate products that ABIM is unlawfully tying, and for that reason, their antitrust claims are invalid, according to the motion.

“Plaintiffs may disagree with ABIM and members of the medical community on whether ABIM certification provides them value, but their claims have no basis in the law,” Richard J. Baron, MD, ABIM president and CEO said in a statement. “With advances in medical science and technology occurring constantly, periodic assessments are critical to ensure internists are staying current and continuing to meet high performance standards in their field.”

Two other lawsuits challenging MOC, one against the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and another against the American Board of Radiology, are ongoing.

More than $200,000 has been raised by doctors and their supporters nationwide through a GoFundMe campaign launched by Practicing Physicians of America to pay for the plaintiffs’ legal costs.

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