FTC slams IL physicians' retail clinic rules

In a move that could set back national physician efforts to control the evolution of retail clinics, the Federal Trade Commission has labeled retail clinic regs backed by Illinois doctors as anti-competitive and bad for consumers. The FTC letter criticizes a bill pending in the Illinois state legislature that would require permits for the facilities, limit their capacity for advertising and mandate greater physician involvement in their operations. It issued the critique at the request of a state legislator who asked for the agency's input on the pending bill. 

The FTC, in short, said it didn't like what it saw. "Because several of the bill's requirements would pertain only to retail clinics--and not other health-care facilities offering the same services or staffing--those requirements could put retail clinics at a competitive disadvantage without offering countervailing consumer benefits," the agency said.

Even this critique may not stop the Illinois State Medical Society, which has been a vocal opponent of retail clinic models. However, the FTC's input has shaped how regulations have evolved in other states, such as Massachusetts, where state health officials dropped proposals to regulate retail clinic ads on FTC advice.

To learn more about the FTC's position:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

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