FTC comments on proposed regulation of retail clinics in Ill.

WASHINGTON The Federal Trade Commission has announced the approval of staff comments regarding proposed regulation of retail healthcare facilities in Illinois.

The comments were filed by the staff of the Office of Policy Planning and the Bureaus of Economics, Competition and Consumer Protection with Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, regarding HB 5372 and the proposed regulation of retail health clinics within the state.

The comments address Nekritz’s concerns about provisions in the bill that could be considered anticompetitive and her specific concerns over the bill’s prohibition on the location of a clinic “in any store or place that provides alcohol or tobacco products for sale to the public.”

According to the comments, although Illinois’ initiative to provide for the emergence of this new model of health care delivery is to be encouraged, “several of HB 5372’s provisions could harm healthcare competition, and the emergence of new clinics, without providing countervailing benefits for Illinois healthcare consumers.”

The staff questioned, for example, a “nondiscrimination” provision that might be read to restrict the ability of third-party payers to negotiate favorable terms with retail clinics and to pass certain savings on to health care consumers via reduced copayments. In addition, staff raised concerns about several advertising provisions in the bill that “may unduly restrict consumer access to truthful and non-misleading information about basic health care services.”

FTC staff concluded the letter by suggesting that the state legislature consider clarifying those provisions in HB 5372 that may be subject to interpretations that would limit health care competition.

In response to the news, the Convenient Care Association issued a statement that read, “The Convenient Care Association supports the opinion issued by the Federal Trade Commission regarding Illinois House Bill 5372, which proposed various restrictions on retail-based healthcare clinics. The FTC’s ruling continued its advocacy of an open and competitive healthcare marketplace where retail-based clinics can play an increasingly important role in providing consumers in Illinois and other states with easier access to high-quality, affordable health care.”

Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, also applauded the move by the FTC.

“Asked by a state representative to evaluate the proposal to determine if provisions of the bill were anticompetitive in nature, the FTC has concluded that several of the provisions could in fact harm health care competition. The FTC further expounds that certain provisions represent unclear or unnecessary regulation, imposed solely upon convenient care clinics, creating undue barriers to entry into the marketplace and placing clinics at a disadvantage to provide critical access points and properly serve patients in need of high-quality, affordable health care. The FTC further encouraged the state of Illinois to provide a platform for the growth and development of this new model of care delivery,” the clinic operator stated.

Take Care Health Systems has 31 clinics in Illinois, located in the Chicagoland area, Rockford and the Metro East outside of St. Louis.

Login or Register to post a comment.