Medical Board Wins Appeal Of Antitrust Suit

The American Board of Internal Medicine persuaded the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Thursday, February 25, to uphold its victory against claims that it uses its monopoly on the physician specialty credentialing process to squeeze renewal fees out of doctors with no alternative, reported Bloomberg.

The internists leading the antitrust lawsuit “argue that they are ‘forced’ to purchase” the renewals, called “maintenance of certification,” because of the “economic reality” that they’re unlikely to be hired without them, Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. wrote for the court.

The lawsuit claimed that the ABIM’s authority to board-certify internists initially and its maintenance of certification program are separate “products;” and that ABIM illegally ties the two together, forcing internists to purchase MOC from ABIM or risk losing their board-certified status.

It also charged the ABIM with violating RICO laws and with “unjust enrichment.” The plaintiffs were four internists, all of whom encountered some problem while attempting to maintain their certification, and three or whom are currently listed as “not certified” on ABIM’s website. The suit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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