FTC Approves Filing of Staff Comments with Massachusetts Department of Public Health

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Commission approval of filing of staff comments: The Commission has approved the filing of comments by the staff of the Office of Policy Planning and the Bureaus of Economics, Competition, and Consumer Protection with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) regarding proposed limited service clinic (LSC) regulations. The comments were developed in response to a DPH request for public testimony on its recently proposed regulations for the licensing of LSCs – sometimes referred to as retail clinics. LSCs tend to provide a limited menu of basic health care and triage services and often are staffed chiefly by licensed nurse practitioners. They also tend to offer longer operating hours, shorter wait-times, and sometimes lower fees than traditional clinics and physician practices.

The FTC staff comments state that such clinics might expand access to basic health care services for certain consumers and might spur price or quality competition with more traditional clinics or physician practices. Therefore, DPH’s proposal to permit them is commendable. The comments also state that the agency’s proposal of regulatory flexibility “might be especially helpful in an emerging market, as health care providers explore different ways to deliver basic care on a competitive basis.” At the same time, however, the comments state that the proposed requirement that all LSC advertising be pre-approved by the DPH “may be overly restrictive,” and recommends that it be struck from the regulations.

The FTC vote approving the filing of the staff comments was 5-0. Copies of the comments can be found as a link to this press release on the Commission’s Web site. (FTC File No. V070015; the staff contact is Daniel J. Gilman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-3136.)

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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