FTC Staff: Proposed Alabama Rule Would Likely Limit the Availability and Increase Cost of Pain Management Services for Alabama Consumers

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In a comment to the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, Federal Trade Commission staff said that the Board’s proposed rule – which would require that interventional pain management services be provided exclusively by doctors – appears overly restrictive and likely detrimental to Alabama patients. The proposed rule would prohibit certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) from performing, under physician supervision, many pain management procedures that CRNAs currently are allowed to provide under physician supervision, such as providing palliative care.

The comment explained that the proposed rule would reduce the availability and raise the prices of chronic pain management services. In particular, the proposed rule could be especially burdensome for some of the most vulnerable citizens of Alabama. For example, CRNAs disproportionately serve smaller, rural hospitals, and hospice and palliative care patients may depend on CRNAs for chronic care. FTC staff noted that the proposed rule provided no evidence that the current practice harms patients, and studies have found that CRNAs provide pain-management services safely.

The Commission vote approving the staff comment was 5-0. It was sent to the State Board of Medical Examiners on November 3, 2010. Copies of the comment can be found now on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release. (FTC File No. V110000; 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 website 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.

(FYI 48.2010.wpd)

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