The ABFM Builds a Death Star by Pat Conrad MD

Well, we are just going to have to file this under, “FREAKING AWESOME!!”  As so often happens now in medicine when the most ludicrous, outlandish imaginings move from parody to reality, we’ve got to stand up and cheer.

I just got this in my inbox:  “The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) and the ABFM Foundation are pleased to announce the establishment of the Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care based in Washington, D.C.”  The extortion apparatus that has so tortured what’s left of family medicine is setting up a new monument in the city that sets the gold standard for shakedown-style corruption.  The ABFM is calling it a “strategic investment.”

“The new Center aims to create space in which patients, health professionals, payers, and policymakers can work to renegotiate the social contract.”  I can’t think of a more deceitful, poisonous line.  It is the payers and policymakers who will call the tune, as it was they who tore any “social contract” to shreds.  This high-dollar farce will be led by Robert Phillips, MD, MSPH, WTF, who informs us that “The erosion of autonomy, strain of regulation, and exploding reporting burden is producing unprecedented levels of burnout.”  That is at best a galling lack of self-awareness on the part of any capo of the ABFM (who also worked for the Institute of Medicine, which made itself the justification for the entire MOC industry).  Phillips says doctors “are unwittingly asking many state legislatures to remove long-standing mechanisms of self-regulation and public accountability. We cannot afford to have the public question health professionals’ willingness to be accountable, and patients cannot afford our surrender of that role to payers and policymakers.”  But the public has long been encouraged to distrust their doctors by the factories for preemptive guilt like the ABFM.

I can only conclude that Phillips is completely dishonest.  He cannot be so dense as to believe that the AAFP/ABFM machine has been anything but the dump truck family medicine was loaded in to be handed over to all the policies, mandates, and unproven theories forced on them by government and third-party payers.

The obvious purpose of this Orwellian-sounding enterprise is to further diminish the very physician autonomy Phillips claims he hopes to restore. “The Center will seek to define value across the healthcare spectrum, reaching beyond medicine to engage the broader healthcare community as well as patients and families to consider what they believe professionalism and value mean, how to measure it, how to improve it…”  Why in the hell would family physicians want more input from the lay ignoramuses who get their health care economics from watching “Good Morning America?”  You can call me an elitist, snob, or out-of-touch, but the mob that thinks perfect, cheap, fast health care is a right has nothing to teach me about quality, value, or professionalism.

Don James Puffer, ABFM CEO, Pres., and family head, says Phillips is an excellent choice. He praises the henchman who “also led the launch of the national PRIME Registry, which now helps primary care practices in 49 states liberate data from their electronic health records, thus enabling easier monitoring and improvement of quality, measure reporting, and completion of certification requirements.”  This means that under the guise of helping family docs get paid more for meeting idiotic reporting measures, Phillips was working to further ensnare those docs into forever reporting them, a pusher for quality-reimbursement smack.

The ABFM has been shown repeatedly to be an extortion scam.  It is feeling threatened by Wes Fisher’s Practicing Physicians of America, and by the anger amongst the remaining FP’s who have not yet evacuated for DPC.  This Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care is just a response explicitly designed to hang on to as much ABFM money and control as possible.  How wonderful it will be for the Center to be just a Metro ride from AMA headquarters, K-Street, and the Capitol, where the enemies of medicine can better coordinate their agendas.  It is just the latest use of hard-won family physician dollars to punish their earners by keeping them chained to a sinking galley.  It is disgusting, and every physician with any pride left should condemn it.

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