Last August on this blog, a fellow traveler posted a comment on this blog about James C. Puffer, MD: “…the President of the ABFM, received salary and retirement compensation of $742,000 in 2011. If you want someone willing to stab their fellow physicians in the back, you have to pay well.”
I was curious, and wrote to Dr. Puffer with that exact quote, and asked, “Is the figure quoted accurate, and are there any extenuating circumstances? I am contacting a major network regarding this as part of a larger piece on the declining interest in primary care, and I would like to present my facts, and all sides accurately.”
I never got any response from my emails to TV networks (insert your favorite Brian Williams jab now), but I did get this actual response from Dr. Puffer:
Our Support Center has forwarded your email to me for review and a response. I am happy to do so.
As a not for profit entity recognized by the IRS under code section 501(C)(6), our tax returns are available to the public for review. These tax returns, like those of all other not for profit entities, are posted on the GuideStar web site (www.guidestar.com). GuideStar obtains the tax returns from the IRS as they are filed. You may review our returns by registering for free with Guide Star. The returns for the most recent three years are available for viewing. Included in Form 990 in Part VII is a detail of the compensation of officers, directors, trustees, and the highest compensated employees.
If you review the Form 990 for 2012 (submitted in November of last year), the most recent available, you will see in Part VII that my reportable compensation for tax year 2012 was $608,796 and estimated other compensation was $133,793 for a total of $742,589. This total includes salary, benefits and retirement contributions. My compensation package was established by our Board of Directors using data from a salary survey of comparable positions within the industry – a corporate best practice. If you review the compensation paid to other executives of ABMS member boards or major medical organizations (such as the AAFP or ACP), I believe that you will find the salary consistent with that paid to other executives in positions similar to mine.
James C. Puffer, M.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Board of Family Medicine”
Doug recently posted a piece called “Mercy Killing the MOC”, which made me recall this exchange. I was board certified in family medicine in 1999. I was proud of that accomplishment, and thought it meant something; since then, I have had to constantly prove my board certification in order to stay employed. Moreover, I have for years had to contribute to Dr. Puffer’s considerably larger salary by jumping through his little hoops in order to prove my fitness to pay even more money to take an exam to prove to lay people that I know my job. Like most of you, I can use my spare time and cash to fulfill what Dr. Puffer thinks up while he’s on the clock.
Dr. Puffer and his ilk have been put in very lucrative positions by a combination of government and quasi-governmental lapdog groups, lauded by academia and the media. To them has been given the power to force the rest of us to comply with the directives of those whose livelihoods do not rely on direct patient care. The ABFM and its MOC have added nothing to my skill as a doctor, and has added not a single dime to my income. I am forced to do something that has only harmed, not helped me. So what is the real purpose of the MOC?