FTC to Host Public Workshop Examining U.S. Health Care Competition

Event Scheduled for March 20-21, 2014, in Washington, DC

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission will host a two-day workshop on March 20-21, 2014, at its Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Ave., N.W., in Washington, DC, to examine competition issues related to certain current developments in the U.S. health care industry. Health care spending accounts for a large part of federal, state, and consumer budgets. The FTC focuses its resources to ensure that health care markets benefit from competition and innovation, both of which can reduce costs and increase the quality and accessibility of health care for consumers. The workshop is free and open to the public, and public comments are being accepted.

The health care industry has evolved significantly in recent years. While some changes have related to implementation of health care reform legislation, many other developments have reflected general and longstanding concerns about cost, quality, access, and care coordination. The proposed workshop will focus on these broader developments. The goal of the workshop is to enhance the Commission’s expertise and knowledge base regarding competitive dynamics in this critical sector of the economy, in support of the Commission’s enforcement, advocacy, and consumer education efforts.

This workshop will address five key topics related to health care competition, described briefly below. Additional details and proposed questions can be found in the Federal Register notice announcing the event.

Professional Regulation of Health Care Providers. The FTC has long been interested in the professional regulation of health care providers. The workshop will bring together experts to discuss developments relating to accreditation, credentialing, licensure, and scope of practice, and the ways in which these regulatory tools may affect competition and consumers.

Innovations in Health Care Delivery. In recent years, several new models for health care delivery have emerged, including retail clinics and telemedicine. Some of these models may offer significant cost savings while maintaining, or even improving, quality of care. These models may also increase the supply of health care services, which may expand consumer access to care. The FTC intends to consider the potential benefits of these new health care delivery models, as well as the impact of regulatory frameworks on their development.

Advancements in Health Care Technology. The FTC intends to explore the potential competitive implications of recent advances in health care technology, such as electronic health care records, health data exchanges, technology platforms for health care payers and providers, and certain other consumer-oriented technological advances

Measuring and Assessing Quality of Health Care. The FTC intends to examine how recent developments in measuring and assessing health quality may impact competition and health care choices made by providers, consumers, and others.

Price Transparency of Health Care Services. Improved price transparency, often in conjunction with quality information, may help consumers and others understand the actual costs of health care services, and may help to control costs. Some forms of price transparency, however, may facilitate price coordination among health care providers, thereby dampening competition. The FTC intends to explore the competitive implications of recent efforts to make price information more transparent to patients, providers, employers, payers, and other health care decision-makers.

The workshop will be webcast on the FTC’s site. In the near future, the Commission will publish an agenda and list of speakers on the event’s web page. The deadline for submitting written comments for consideration prior to the workshop is March 10, 2014 . The FTC will accept written comments on the notice and workshop discussions through April 30, 2014. Instructions about how to submit comments by mail can be found in the Federal Register notice.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities who wish to attend the workshop in person are available upon request. Requests should be submitted via email to lkittleson@ftc.gov or by calling Lara Kittelson at 202-326-3388. Requests should be made in advance. Please include a detailed description of the accommodation needed and provide contact information. Directions to the FTC Conference Center and instructions for pre-registration can be found on the Commission’s website. Pre-registration is not required, but strongly encouraged.

The Commission vote approving the notice announcing the workshop was 4-0. The notice is available as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register shortly.

The FTC’s Office of Policy Planning works with the Commission and its staff to develop long-range competition and consumer policy initiatives, consistent with the FTC’s unique mission to conduct research and engage in advocacy on issues that affect competition, consumers, and the U.S. economy. The Office of Policy Planning submits advocacy filings; conducts research and studies; organizes public workshops; issues reports; and advises staff on cases raising new or complex policy and legal issues. To reach the Office of Policy Planning, send an e-mail to opp@ftc.gov. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mitchell J . Katz
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161

STAFF CONTACTS:
Karen Goldman
Office of Policy Planning
202-326-2574

Patricia Schultheiss
Office of Policy Planning
202-326-2877