FTC comes down on IL bill restricting retail clinics

The Federal Trade Commission has let it be known that it isn't thrilled with pending legislation that could place limits on the state's growing retail clinic industry. The agency found that the bill, which is backed by the Illinois State Medical Society, could "excessively restrict retail clinics to the detriment of Illinois healthcare consumers." The 12-page analysis, which was requested by state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, found a number of problems with the bill, including a definition it said could be interpreted to exempt retail clinics owned by hospitals or physicians from the rules.

It also objected to several other provisions, including proposed rules limiting medical directors to overseeing no more than two clinics; prohibiting payers from negotiating lower co-pays and deductibles for retail clinic services; barring retail clinics from opening in establishments that sell alcohol or tobacco; and requiring that retail clinics have a designated receptions and waiting area.

The controversy over this bill is not the first conflict over retail clinic regulations--a few states, including Massachusetts, have already seen heated battles over this issue--and it probably won't be the last. For example, the AMA continues to challenge the safety of retail clinic services, as well as their potential for posing a conflict of interest by being housed where prescription drugs are sold. Other critics (such as Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino) have proposed rules barring clinics from operating where tobacco is sold, which de facto prevents the clinics from operating in drugstores that rely on tobacco income.

To learn more about the FTC analysis:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

Related Articles:
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Kroger chain invests in retail clinic operator
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Wal-Mart plans 2,000 retail clinics

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