Conflicts of interest and corruption lurk around every corner in our society it seems. Some of the worst influence peddling goes on in our medical system, which is so dysfunctional in many ways due to special interests corrupting the field. Here is an example from Alliance for Natural Health.
Is the Federation of State Medical Boards Behind the Brutal Attacks on Integrative Medicine Practitioners?
May 15, 2012
The FSMB is an elite, highly influential, secretive private organization. We also believe that it is thoroughly corrupt. Action Alert!
Each of the fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia and the US territories, has laws that define the practice of medicine; each one delegates the authority to enforce those laws to a state medical board. State medical boards also adopt policies and create guidelines related to the practice of medicine. They have the power to revoke physician licenses for violating the state’s laws of the practice of medicine—subject to the boards’ interpretation of the law, which can be highly arbitrary.
The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is a private 501(c)(6) trade association that purports to represent the seventy state medical and osteopathic boards of the US and its territories, and cosponsors the United States Medical Licensing Examination. It is tremendously powerful: whatever it suggests in terms of medical care policies are often adopted by the state medical boards. A private trade association with no public funding, transparency, or accountability arguably has the power to interpret state medical law and grant or revoke medical licenses! Ever wonder why it’s so hard to find a doctor who will prescribe bioidentical hormones or administer chelation therapy? We believe it’s because the FSMB has made it such a career risk for the doctor to use his own independent judgment.
So far as we can tell, it seems that the FSMB was infiltrated in the late 1990s by the so-called “quackbuster” contingent—people openly hostile to complementary and alternative medicine. At the 1996 annual meeting of the FSMB in Chicago, there was a radical shift from a focus on health fraud as defined by the federal government (overbilling, un-bundling, and kickbacks) to another definition of health fraud: alternative medical care. It seems a concerted effort to label innovation in health care—and especially any natural treatment that competes with an emphasis on drugs and surgery as the ideal for modern medicine—as mere “quackery.” (In fact, at just one session of that meeting, Dr. William Fleming—a member of the FSMB’s board of directors, and chair of its Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care Fraud—used the word “quack” or “quackery” 139 times.)
Since then, the FSMB has challenged integrative medicine as being outside the “standard of care,” defining the term to suit its own purposes; in this, the organization mirrors and amplifies the American Medical Association’s antipathy toward integrative medicine. Because practicing outside the standard of care is grounds for a state medical board to revoke a doctor’s license, the attempt to exclude CAM therapies from the standard of care is a major threat to consumers’ access to integrative doctors. For years we have seen integrative doctors being harassed and charged by their state medical boards for practicing outside this bogus standard of care when what they have really done is posed a competitive threat to conventional medicine, at a time when conventional medicine is doing a great deal of harm and really needs competition. You may also recall our story last month in which the FSMB participated in a biased anti-chelation event, attempting to define chelation therapy as health fraud.