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Is the new professionalism and ACP's new ethics really just about following guidelines?

The Charter ( Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium.A Physician's Charter) did not deal with just the important relationship of ...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The medical progressive's fear-that someone,somewhere is deciding with his physician's input what his health care should be

H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as that haunting fear that someone,somewhere may be happy.

The Medical Progressive Elite's haunting fear is that someone,somewhere is making their own medical decisions with input from their private physician.This fear is shared by the third party payers. In recent years,there appears to be considerable progress in alleviating their fear.

The last thing that the third party payers and the medical progressive elite want is that medical decisions be made  a physician- patient "dyad".This situation is ripe for a classic Baptists and Bootleggers scenario,the medical elite sincerely believing that medicine is too complex and expensive to be left to the judgment of patients with advice from their physicians and the third party payers striving to decrease the cost of doing business and increasing profits share holder value.

This medicine-is-too important-to-be left-patients-and-their- physicians view  is made crystal clear in the following quote from the book,"New Rules"  written by Drs. Don Berwick and Troyen Brennan:

"Today, this isolated relationship[ they are speaking of the physician patient relationship] is no longer tenable or possible… Traditional medical ethics, based on the doctor-patient dyad must be reformulated to fit the new mold of the delivery of health care...Regulation must evolve. Regulating for improved medical care involves designing appropriate rules with authority...Health care is being rationalized through critical pathways and guidelines. The primary function of regulation in health care, especially as it affects the quality of medical care, is to constrain decentralized individualized decision making."

Dr.Berwick went on the be the  head of CMS for a while and Dr. Brennan went on to be the chief medical office of Aetna insurance company and then CVS Caremark.Sometimes the line between the Baptists and the Bootleggers gets a bit blurry.

Destroying the physician patient dyad or relationship  has been a strategic goal of the progressive elite for years and a major initiative to that end was the 2002 publication "Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium:A physician charter".That was a joint effort by the ACP Foundation,the ABIM Foundation and the European Federation of Internal Medicine. The project chair was Troy Brennan and, in my opinion, importantly in terms of future funding and  promotion of the "charter" a member of the project was  Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.The RWJF has been a major source of funds for the ad campaign for the Professionalism project.  She has been the CEO and President of the RWJF since 2002. Dr. Harry Kimball ,president of ABIM from 1991 to 2003 was also a project participant.

The Professionalism 's theme is to downplay the fiduciary role of the physician to the patient and insert a nebulous co-duty of  the physician to be a steward of society's limited medical resources and to work for social justice. A particular political agenda was inserted into medical ethics. For physicians who wondered how that role was to be played out, later the ABIMF clarified  things by explaining that one could be a steward of the [collectively owned] medical resources  and social justice would be achieved by providing efficient health care.In one document the authors changed the nature of traditional medical ethics and  also rewrote the meaning of social justice which was now efficient care as opposed to the widely accepted meaning of social justice as redistribution.  In a bait and switch move they have redefined social justice as efficient health care attempting to aggregate the values that individuals might place on a treatment with some collective metric allegedly representing the greatest good to the greatest number.They then further simplified things for the practicing internists (actually all physicians) by gratuitously asserting that following guidelines would be the road to social justice.

Disappointingly, the AMA went along with this flim flam sophistry of the physicians as stewards of society's collectively owned medical resources.See here.

In the ACP-ABIM world no longer would the patient and the physician  be the primary determiners of a test or treatment value but value would be designated as high or low  primarily on a cost effectiveness calculus.Rather than treating each patient as an independent moral agent an aggregate utilitarian metric would be imposed  in which "high value care" is not in the eye of the patient but rather defined by a third party and expressed in  quality adjusted life years per dollar spent The only or at least determinate value is economic efficiency.

Of course, the medical professional elite is a subset of the larger progressive community whose operational credo is that most things are too complex and complicated  to be left to average people and if they will not listen to the delivered wisdom they should be compelled  while the progressive's polar star and major talking point is  to fight against inequality. The poster child for the stick approach has be the comments of Dr. Robert Benson Jr.,the emeritus president of ABIMF,writing on the blog of the ABIMF:

" CMS, which has the ultimate negotiating position in the form of reimbursement for Medicare services, could only accept negotiated bundled charges. It could also refuse payment for non-compliance with the Choosing Wisely recommendations."...ABIM could require candidates to achieve a perfect score on questions related to costs and redundant care as a requirement for admission to secure exams for initial certification or MOC." (This would seem to be a rather severe penalty for not complying with a "recommendation" which Benson thinks should be an edict.)

Consider how important the Choosing Wisely rules would be if  Benson's wishes were enacted.Consider how much of a target the Choosing Wisely decisions would be to various lobbying groups.Third party payers would relish such a situation.

If you want to know what the ABIM and its foundation are about, just read  the ABIMF blog.

The combination of mega hubris and libido domini spells trouble in health care as it does pretty much everywhere.

minor spelling and punctuation corrections made on 3/31/15 and 4/21/16

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Newsweek article echos practicing internists concerns about the ABIM and the ABIMF

 Rising criticism about the American Board of Internal Medicine and its twin, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation is getting wider coverage.

The leadership at the ABIM-ABIMF cannot be happy with this recent article in Newsweek by Pulitzer :Prize winning investigator journalist, Kurt Eichenwald.

Most of the article highlighted the activities of the ABIM but he did say the following about the ABIM Foundation:

"And there is another organization called the ABIM Foundation that does...well, it’s not quite clear what it does. Its website reads like a lot of mumbo-jumbo. The Foundation conducts surveys on how “organizational leaders have advanced professionalism among practicing physicians.” And it is very proud of its “Choosing Wisely” program, an initiative “to help providers and patients engage in conversations to reduce overuse of tests and procedures,” with pamphlets, videos and other means."

As to the growing opposition to the actions of the ABIM and questions about what the ABIMF is all about , I wonder if Dr Benson,emeritus CEO of ABIMF  might wish the following comments had not been published on the AMIF's blog: I have added the bolding.

" CMS, which has the ultimate negotiating position in the form of reimbursement for Medicare services, could only accept negotiated bundled charges. It could also refuse payment for non-compliance with the Choosing Wisely recommendations."...ABIM could require candidates to achieve a perfect score on questions related to costs and redundant care as a requirement for admission to secure exams for initial certification or MOC."

Apparently , in Dr. Benson's eyes the Choosing Wisely pronouncements are ( or should be) more that a few talking points that physicians and patients can focus on as they discuss what might be "the right treatment for the right patient at the right time" .There should be requirements for Medicare payments and demonstration that a ABIM exam candidate has mastered them before they would even be "allowed" to take their "secure examination".  Comments such as these suggest more is going on at ABIMF than harmless mumbo-jumbo. It is worthy of that  other medical policy wonks are sending up trial balloons for proposals  giving Choosing Wisely regulatory teeth. See here.

The more light shined on the folks and activities at ABIM-ABIMF the less likely they will be able to preserve their phoney-baloney,self appointed positions. 

H/T Dr Wes

Addendum Walter Bond on his blog asks will the ABIM board members, present and the recent past,defend what they did or argue that they fought against all the bad stuff and blame as much as possible on Dr. Christine Cassel.See here