FTC Staff Advises Louisiana Legislature That Bill Would Restrict Competition to Provide Dental Care to the State's Underserved Children; At FTC's Request, District Court Halts Illegal Operations of Federal Loan Modification Law Center

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FTC Staff Advises Louisiana Legislature That Bill Would Restrict Competition to Provide Dental Care to the State’s Underserved Children

Federal Trade Commission staff have filed a comment stating that proposed Louisiana House Bill 687, if enacted, would restrict competition to provide dental care to underserved children in the state. As drafted, the bill will prohibit the practice of most forms of in-school dentistry throughout the state. According to the comment, the FTC staff is concerned that if the proposed legislation becomes law, “fewer students – especially the indigent and economically disadvantaged – will receive dental care,” as they may not have access to dental treatments outside of school. The FTC’s Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Economics, and Bureau of Competition submitted the comment to Representative Tim Burns of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

The FTC staff comment states that the lack of dental care is a particular problem for children in rural and low-income urban communities. Only 37 percent of all children in Louisiana who qualify for Medicaid have seen a dentist in the past year. Further, it explains that the U.S. Surgeon General, Centers for Disease Control, and Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals all have advocated for more school-based dental services to improve dental care. Accordingly, FTC staff urges the Legislature to “scrutinize carefully any assertion that the Bill will improve the quality of dental care for this population.”

Summarizing its views, the staff comment states, “We understand that presently there are dentists who provide in-school dental services to Louisiana’s poorest children. The bill will restrict competition to provide underserved juvenile populations routine dental services by making it illegal for anyone to charge a price to provide in-school dental services. Accordingly, HB 687 will force many children to incur the substantially higher costs and inconvenience of seeking dental care outside the school setting. Faced with greater inconvenience cost and higher prices, it is likely that many children will not seek dental care at all.”

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the comment was 4-0. A copy of the comment can be found on the FTC’s Web site and as a link to this press release. (FTC File No. X090009; the staff contact is Gustav P. Chiarello, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2633.)

At FTC’s Request, District Court Halts Illegal Operations of Federal Loan Modification Law Center

At the request of the FTC, on April 24, 2009, a U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction against Federal Loan Modification Law Center, LLP; Anz & Associates, PLC; Legal Turn, Inc.; Federal Loan Modification, LLC; Nabile Anz; Boaz Minitzer; and Jeffrey Broughton (collectively, FedMod), finding “good cause to believe” that they may be violating federal law. Among other things, the court ordered that FedMod, while the case is pending, stop making claims about the likelihood of obtaining or negotiating home loan modifications for consumers and, in all advertising and marketing, make no claims about any affiliation with the U.S. government. The court also barred FedMod from collecting any fee before performing any promised loan modification or foreclosure relief service.

On April 3, 2009, the FTC filed a complaint against FedMod alleging that they falsely represented that they would obtain a mortgage loan modification or stop foreclosure in all or virtually all cases and that they were part of, affiliated with, or endorsed by the U.S. government or one or more government programs. (FTC File No. 092-3070, Civil Action No. SACV09-401CJC (MLGx); the staff contact is Laura M. Sullivan, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3327; see press release dated April 6, 2009, at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/04/hud.shtm.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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