Physician members of the Tennessee Medical Association are praising a new law that they see as easing costly, burdensome, and in many cases, mandatory requirements for doctors to maintain specialty board certification. The Tennessee General Assembly unanimously approved the measure after a two-year effort by TMA to persuade state lawmakers to take action on what has become a hot button issue for physicians across the United States.
In late March, the Tennessee Senate passed the bill (SB1824) by a vote of 33-0 after the House unanimously passed the companion bill (HB1927) a week earlier. Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law in early April.
Sen. Richard Briggs, MD (R-Knoxville) sponsored the Senate bill, while House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) led the effort in the larger chamber. The two legislators worked with TMA in 2017 to pass another law that prevents MOC from being required for state licensure. That same bill created a task force to study MOC as it relates to hospital hiring practices, admitting privileges and insurance networks.
"TMA's goal, after years of complaints from our member physicians about MOC testing requirements, was simply to give doctors options for maintaining and improving their professional competency," said TMA 2017-18 President Nita W. Shumaker, MD. "Doctors should not be forced by hospitals or insurance companies to participate in an arbitrary certification process that has not been shown to improve quality of care. This bill gives much-needed relief for doctors who may choose Continuing Medical Education or other forms of ongoing learning. Thanks to Sen. Briggs, Rep. Williams and the other members of our State Legislature, Tennessee is now one of few states developing real solutions to this national issue."
The new law carries two important provisions for doctors who have pleaded for relief from the MOC requirements levied by the American Board of Medical Specialties, insurance companies, hospitals and health systems:
- It prohibits health insurance companies from excluding physicians from health plan networks based solely on a physician's MOC status.
- It allows the medical staff at each hospital to determine whether to require MOC or accept other forms of competency measures (such as CME) for credentialing and/or admitting privileges. Hospitals requiring MOC must adopt bylaws making it a stipulation for work or network participation.