Federal Court Dismisses MOC Antitrust Complaint vs Radiology Board

Medscape (12/02/19) Terry, Ken

A federal court in Illinois last month granted a motion by the American Board of Radiology (ABR) to dismiss an antitrust suit by Tennessee radiologist Sadhish K. Siva, MD, against its maintenance of certification (MOC) program. Siva claimed MOC mandates for ABR-certified doctors violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, because the ABR tied its initial board certification product to a more recent MOC product. He also said the alleged tie-up has hindered market traction for the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons' (NBPAS) own board certification for physicians and accused ABR of illegally monopolizing the MOC market and unlawfully enriching itself by charging high MOC fees. District Court Judge Jorge L. Alonso ruled that the tying charge lacks merit, as the ABR's initial board certification and MOC program are inseparable. He added that the Sherman Antitrust Act does not require the ABR to allow competitors like the NBPAS to offer a component of its certification product — thus it does not have to acknowledge NBPAS' board recertification. "To the extent ABR exercises 'control' over plaintiff's certification status, it is not the result of an illegal tie-in but 'a function of ... contractual powers' that plaintiff was aware of from the beginning, even if he was unaware of exactly what form MOC would take," Alonso stated.

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