Maintenance of Conflict of Interest?

Maintenance of Conflict of Interest?

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In the May 2nd issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the American Medical Association (AMA) discusses the subject of physician conflicts of interest in medicine. This puts them at an interesting juncture when the editor-in-Chief and executive editor of JAMA failed to disclose their relationship with the AMA and the AMA’s relationship with US physicians. The AMA still presents itself to the public and legislators as representing Americas’ doctors, even though representing US physicians’ interests has not been their financial priority for many years. In fact, it is telling that their mission statement no longer includes the words doctor or physician. If they do represent US physicians as they often claim, then the AMA (and its publication JAMA) are rife with numerous conflicts of interest and public clarification of this fact is desperately needed.

Which is it?

In June 2016 at the invitation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, concerns regarding the conflicts of interest inherent to the American Board of Medical Specialties’ (ABMS) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program were brought before the interim national AMA House of Delegates meeting. The AMA and ABMS are co-member organizations of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and each organization took interest. The room was full of concerned physician delegates who had taken time away from their practices to represent their colleagues, alongside the President and chief council of the AMA, senior executive officer of the American College of Physicians, and the President and CEO of the ABMS. These courageous practicing physician delegates issued a “vote of no confidence” in the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) – the largest ABMS member board representing approximately 200,000 US physicians – during a national panel discussion. They later passed a resolution to end the ABMS MOC program, which is a laborious recertification process plaguing overburdened physicians across this nation. Unfortunately, the AMA leadership has yet to honor this resolution.

Which is it?

In June 2016 at the invitation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, concerns regarding the conflicts of interest inherent to the American Board of Medical Specialties’ (ABMS) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program were brought before the interim national AMA House of Delegates meeting. The AMA and ABMS are co-member organizations of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and each organization took interest. The room was full of concerned physician delegates who had taken time away from their practices to represent their colleagues, alongside the President and chief council of the AMA, senior executive officer of the American College of Physicians, and the President and CEO of the ABMS. These courageous practicing physician delegates issued a “vote of no confidence” in the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) – the largest ABMS member board representing approximately 200,000 US physicians – during a national panel discussion. They later passed a resolution to end the ABMS MOC program, which is a laborious recertification process plaguing overburdened physicians across this nation. Unfortunately, the AMA leadership has yet to honor this resolution.

If the House of Delegates is little more than a figurehead that makes a mockery of representing practicing US physicians before the AMA, then the public, legislators, and participating physicians should be formally notified and the perceived conflict clarified. Likewise, when a physician notifies JAMA’s Editor in Chief of ABMS authors that have consistently failed to disclose their affiliation with their own for-profit wholly-owned subsidiary ABMS Solutions, LLC in JAMA and elsewhere, a response and action addressing this specific conflict should occur.

However, if the AMA has chosen to serve as an independent business entity paying their journal’s editor-in-chief (who also serves as their Senior Vice President) $687,290 while also earning $111.1 million from CPT code “royalties and credentialing services” and $20 million from advertisers, then there is no conflict and the editors can feel reassured their disclosures in JAMA were proper. The AMA is one of the largest nonprofit 501(c)(6) business leagues in the country and has accumulated assets of over $686 million for its purposes.

Publishing an entire journal issue dedicated to the topic of physician conflict of interest while failing to acknowledge their own conflicts with physicians threatens to render JAMA’s coverage of this topic to little more than ethical “fake news.” The onus is on the AMA to clarify their role and potential conflicts with working US physicians or as Maya Angelou once said, “When a person shows you who they are, believe them.”

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6 Comments on "Maintenance of Conflict of Interest?"


Member
May 21, 2017

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Member
Wgfisher
May 21, 2017

Brad F –
Here’s a link to the specific reference I was referring to:
http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2623590

Member
pjnelson
May 21, 2017

I am aware that the number of active members of the AMA represents a small portion of the total active licensed physicians: maybe less than 50%. So the AMA somehow is more likely related to the traditions of healthcare in the past than the ‘health’ ‘care’ offered today. I have not even perceived that they realistically understood the importance of equitably available Primary Healthcare for every citizen, community by community. Seems that the effort to become a publishing house dominates their affairs.

Member
May 22, 2017

To answer your question more directly, less than 15% of physicians belong to the AMA. They may have at one time represented practicing physicians but those days are over.

Member
meltoots
May 22, 2017

Love your stuff Wes,
Keep on them. AMA is completely out of step now with the front line MD.
They are losing membership every year.
Watch for the new groups forming.
The 85% have had enough of the AMA selling their MDs out to DC politics, and hyper-regulations and penalties. AMA should be a made as a hornet at DC and stop playing the soft touch. They would be dead without CPT coding fees.

Member
Brad F
May 21, 2017

Wes
Which of the JAMA ops in the COI issue did you have an issue with relative to the above?
I also was also in the same room you were in last June, incidentally.
Brad