The Federal Trade Commission announced this morning--one business day before the June 1 enforcement date--that physicians will be granted yet another temporary reprieve from having to comply with the Red Flags Rule, delaying implementation until December 21, 2010, according to Buffalo Business First.
The controversy over the rule, which requires all "creditors," including physicians, to implement policies to protect consumers from identity fraud, recently led the American Medical Association and other groups to sue the FTC for an exemption to the requirement they call "arbitrary and capricious" when applied to doctors.
But while healthcare providers watch the case unfold and await word on a bill that would exempt certain small businesses (including physician and dental offices) from the rule, some are not waiting until year's end to begin anti-fraud efforts. Buffalo (N.Y.) Medical Group, for example, began checking patients' I.D.s last summer, the newspaper reports. "It definitely is a burden and it doesn't make patients happy," says Daniel Scully, the group's executive director.
But some medical offices acknowledge that there may be some validity to applying extra safeguards to protect patients' information. "In the last few years, there was more potential for people stealing someone else's credit card to pay the bill," says Sandy Yeater, executive director of Tonawanda Pediatrics, a four-office pediatric practice in western New York.
"But now with the increased cost of health insurance and increased deductible plans--and fewer people having insurance--there are people voluntarily giving people access to their insurance and people who are stealing it, who come in and pretend to be someone else," she adds.