Judge requires liquidation as part of board certification case

August 18, 2013

The court ruled the American Optometric Society (AOS) bankruptcy case must be converted into a liquidation (Chapter 7) and not a Chapter 11 reorganization as originally filed.

In issuing this ruling, the Honorable Judge Mark Wallace found the AOS filed its bankruptcy case in “bad faith.”

The court’s ruling paved the way for the appointment of a trustee who will preside over the liquidation of the organization’s assets. The court in the underlying case previously ordered AOS to pay attorneys’ fees of $462,508 to the American Board of Optometry (ABO) as the prevailing party, a rare award.

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision,” said Paul Ajamian, O.D., who chairs the ABO Board. “This verdict, along with the prior court ruling that the AOS lawsuit was ‘groundless and unreasonable,’ highlights the impropriety of their divisive conduct, justifying strong and swift action by the ABO. The hostile and acrimonious rhetoric generated by a handful of individuals set on slowing the progress of our profession has failed, and their organization has been ordered to cease operating.”

In 2012, a lawsuit by a small group of ODs who formed the AOS was stopped mid-trial by Judge Howard Matz, who ruled their case was “groundless and unreasonable” and ordered them to pay the ABO’s court costs, and ultimately attorney fees, totaling nearly $500,000. Subsequently, the AOS filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Full coverage about the lawsuit ruling from last year is available at newsfromaoa.org.

July adds more diplomates

In 2013, 3,500 optometrists became active candidates for board certification, with 500 taking the exam in July, bringing the total number of Diplomates to more than 1,700.

The ABO offers a voluntary mechanism to obtain a legitimate board certification credential, along with ongoing maintenance of certification, that is recognized by the public, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and private payers, all of whom are increasingly looking for quality measures to evaluate physician performance.

In 2012, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited the ABO’s board certification program, confirming that the ABO represents a valid and reliable process for development, implementation, maintenance, and governance of its certification program.

In 2013, for the third year in a row, the CMS approved the ABO’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process for the CMS PQRS MOC bonus program, considering it to be substantially equivalent to the MOC process of American Board of Medical Specialties boards.

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