Originally published by Gongwer on January 26, 2016

Legislation promoted by supporters Tuesday would end what physicians call an arbitrary and irrelevant requirement to maintain board certifications of certain specialties.

At a media roundtable Tuesday, the Michigan State Medical Society and Rep. Edward Canfield (R-Sebewaing), a physician, said to stay licensed in the state, physicians are required to have 150 hours of continuing education every three years. But boards for certain specialties - like pediatrics - have also begun instituting a requirement after a physician has already passed the exam for that specialty.

Mr. Canfield said the legislation (SB 608 , SB 609 , HB 5090 and HB 5091 ) would declare if physicians decide not to re-certify after receiving a board certification, then it cannot be held against them.

Maintenance of Certification, which is the requirement coming down from the national boards, varies in how often a physician must participate and in its form. Doctor Meg Edison, a pediatric physician from Kent County, said when she took her first exam in 2003, the MOC was required every seven years and was an open book exam. She said it was then changed to every 10 years, but a closed book exam.

Currently, she said, the requirement is every five years and the American Board of Pediatrics is talking about weekly tests.

"It keeps changing," Ms. Edison said.

Julie Novak, the CEO of MSMS, said health plans and hospitals are now assuming MOC should be a requirement for participation or privileges.

"This burden, which has not really shown any difference in quality of care being delivered, is now growing and affecting physicians' ability to serve patients," she said.

Mr. Canfield said he has a non-expiring Board of Certification, which he received in 1996. He said he does not have to take MOC exams.

He said studies have shown there is no difference in quality of care from a doctor required to participate in MOC and those who do not.

"I am so excited I was given the opportunity to assist in this process," he said. "I believe my job is to help bring and maintain physicians in our state so that the people in the state of Michigan have doctors."

MSMS President Doctor Rose Ramirez, a family physician in Kent County, said MOC takes away from her everyday tasks to help patients.

"We think there are much better ways to show we are confident and up-to-date physicians," she said. "One of the things we do is 50 hours of continuing education annually in this state to maintain just our license."

Ms. Edison said physicians are now being required to "jump through incredible hoops" to maintain a certification that used to be an exam taken only once. She also said the class that created the MOC exempt themselves from the requirement.

"I think what this legislation can do when doctors are no longer required to maintain certification for their hospital privileges, or their insurance participation, or their license, is you are freed up on some very important things," she said. "We are freed up on our education. This is a huge thing. Right now with Maintenance of Certification you are not allowed to choose the education you want and need for your patient population."

The legislation has been sent to the House and Senate Health Policy Committees and Mr. Canfield said he hopes to see a hearing soon.