You may have heard that the Texas Legislature, with strong backing from the Texas Medical Association, passed a tough new law that protects physicians from being forced to undergo maintenance of certification (MOC).
But you may be wondering, what does this mean for me? What are those protections? And how do I go about availing myself of them?
Your fellow TMA members have been asking those same questions, so we’ve developed a new white paper (available to members only) that answers them.
Senate Bill 1148, written by Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), (at right) and co-sponsored by Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), prevents the Texas Medical Board from using MOC as a requirement for doctors to obtain or renew a medical license. In most instances, it also bars hospitals and health plans from discriminating against physicians based on their MOC status Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 1148 in June and it took effect Jan. 1.
The most common question we get revolves around credentialing for hospitals and a long list of other kinds of health care facilities. Per the white paper, they “may differentiate based on MOC provided that the voting physician members of the entity’s organized medical staff vote to authorize the differentiation. This authorization can be made only by the voting physician members of the entity’s organized medical staff and not by the entity’s governing body, administration, or any other person.”
The white paper goes on to explain that this is not just a blanket yes or no. The medical staff can vote to grandfather certain physicians, for example, or include only certain specialties.
However, the law does allow medical schools and comprehensive cancer centers to differentiate among physicians based on MOC status. And health facilities can use a physician’s MOC status if it’s required by law or by a national certifying or accrediting organization, such as a trauma facility designation.
For managed care plans, the protections apply “with regard to paying the physician, reimbursing the physician, and directly or indirectly contracting with the physician to provide services to enrollees … without regard to whether the physician is a participating physician.” The hospital exception for designation required by law or by national certifying or accrediting organizations, however, also applies to the health plans.
The white paper also answers these frequently asked questions about Texas’ new MOC law:
- Does it mean that Texas physicians won’t be required to keep their medical knowledge up-to-date?
- Does it mean that a Texas physician who is board certified does not have to re-certify or maintain continuous certification?
- Does it mean that a Texas physician who was initially board certified but who does not maintain board certification can continue to advertise as being board certified?
- Does it mean that a specialist can now advertise that he/she is a board certified subspecialist without maintaining board certification in that subspecialty?
Of course, our lawyers remind us to remind you that neither reading this article nor reading the white paper are substitutes for the advice of your own attorney.