News & Press: Advocacy

Academic Research Supports Antitrust Enforcement in Physician Certification

Tuesday, May 5, 2020  
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Paper finds that healthcare costs and patient access to care are threatened by the monopoly of the American Board of Medical Specialties

Prominent antitrust lawyer Adam Candeub released a whitepaper, "The American Board of Medical Specialties: Certification and the Need for Antitrust Enforcement," that reveals the negative impact of the monopoly held by the American Board of Medical Specialties on the healthcare system. The whitepaper was underwritten by the American Association of Physician Specialists Foundation.

Candeub, also a professor of law at Michigan State University, finds that ABMS collaborates with the congressionally funded Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, controls residency programs, and influences both hospital hiring practices and insurance company reimbursements. It also requires that physicians participate in its costly certification maintenance programs. This dominance on the part of ABMS contributes to rising healthcare costs across the board and decreases patient access to care. It also disallows for competition among certifying organizations, which drives innovation and can lower healthcare costs.

ABMS affects every aspect of a physician's livelihood, including their access to advertising and right to commercial free speech. Some state laws delegate special privileges to ABMS, restricting the ability of physicians to advertise that they are board certified unless they are a member of ABMS. This restriction of advertising reduces the amount of information available to patients and makes it more difficult for them to choose the best provider.

Most recently, the impact of ABMS's monopoly became evident during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, where hospitals were not hiring doctors that were certified by an organization other than ABMS. These discriminatory hiring practices could have resulted in staffing shortages and negative patient outcomes.

AACS is proud to join AAPSF in its fight to increase competition in the healthcare industry and take steps to decrease ABMS's monopoly on board certification.

View the full whitepaper here.