Physicians across the state reacted strongly to a March 5 letter from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) that implied the state’s largest insurance company is now using maintenance of certification (MOC) to rate physicians.
That was not the intent, the company’s president says.
“The new quality metric is satisfied when a physician can demonstrate he or she has initially obtained board certification,” BCBSTX President Dan McCoy, MD, told Texas Medicine Today. “To be very clear, maintenance of certification was never intended to be and is not incorporated, in any fashion, into BlueCompare.”
Blue Compare is part of the BCBSTX online physician directory for patients that “adds quality-related performance information about participating physicians,” according to
the company’s website.
March 5 letter from Leslie Weisberg, MD, BCBSTX medical director for Texas managed care, said the company is “adding board certification as an indicator for measuring quality. To have the board certification component included as an indicator of quality performance, beginning January 2019, you must obtain board certification in 2018.”
The announcement spurred numerous social media posts, as well as phone calls and emails to the Texas Medical Association accusing BCBSTX of violating
the state’s new law that prohibits insurers from discriminating against physicians based on MOC.
“Any policy (like this one) that treats doctors with lifetime certificates differently than those with time-limited certificates is discriminatory and should be changed,” State Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), author of the new law, said in a March 18
Then-TMA President Carlos J. Cardenas, MD, shared those concerns in a
March 25 letter to Dr. McCoy.
“Our member physicians are upset and confused by this poorly worded notice,” Dr. Cardenas wrote. “As you know, board certification for physicians in many specialties and for most younger physicians is now a never-ending process. It is this connection to maintenance of certification that has raised physician ire over Dr. Weisberg’s memo. Similarly, it is our belief that the policy the memo announced violates the spirit of Texas’ new law on MOC mandates.”
Initial board certification, Dr. Cardenas continued, is a different story. “We believe it is an indicator of professional achievement that could be useful for patients in selecting their physicians,” he wrote. Dr. Cardenas recommended that “any physician who currently holds — or has ever held — professional board certification be eligible for BlueCompare recognition.”
Dr. McCoy told Texas Medicine Today that he shares that view, adding that information about physicians’ initial board certification “is useful to patients in selecting physicians.”