Opinion: Medical society should stand up for doctors, support cutting red tape

My friend recently described her graduation from a prestigious MBA program years ago.  She said “at the commencement they said ‘you have your degree, and it can never be taken away.’”  But sadly that is essentially what can happen to any competent physician, mid-career, by failure to comply with the archaic “maintenance of certification” process.

Currently there is a bill created from model language created by the American Medical Association which is being debated in the legislature (S2408 and H7964).  This bill would stop hospitals and health plans from dropping competent, licensed, caring physicians because they fail to comply with this expensive, unnecessary process, which is monopolized by one out-of-state corporation hundreds of miles away.

The one question that lingers though is why would the Rhode Island Medical Society oppose such legislation?  While it is true that they only represent about 15 percent of physicians in Rhode Island (only about 700 of Rhode Island’s estimated 4,700 doctors are members), surely they must see the undue burden that the “maintenance of certification” process places on physicians.  Their counterpart in Massachusetts (the Massachusetts Medical Society) can see it clearly enough, and is supporting similar legislation in that state.  Most physicians I know feel this process is a tedious holdover from another time.  Why would RIMS feel differently?

One translation of the ancient Hippocratic Oath contains words to the effect of “into each house I enter, I will do so solely for purposes of healing of the sick.”  One would hate to think that any other motivation would be behind the decisions made by RIMS, or indeed any other physicians.

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Lisa Frappier is a psychiatrist, living in Providence, and has been practicing in Rhode Island for 25 years.