The Federal Trade Commission staff issued a critical review of legislation backed by the Illinois State Medical Society that would place restrictions on the states burgeoning retail health clinics.
The bill, which had not advanced beyond the House Rules Committee when the Illinois General Assembly ended its session May 31, unless revised could excessively restrict retail clinics to the detriment of Illinois healthcare consumers, the commissions staff concluded in a 12-page analysis requested by Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz.
The letter identifies several provisions as problematic, beginning with a statutory definition that could be interpreted to exempt clinics owned by hospitals or physicians, even if theyre likewise operated in retail settings.
Other trouble spots are: limiting medical directors to overseeing no more than two clinics; prohibiting payers from negotiating lower copays and deductibles for services provided at retail clinics; barring retail clinics from including fee comparisons in advertising; prohibiting clinics from opening in retail establishments that sell alcohol or tobacco; and requiring that retail clinics have a designated receptionist and waiting area.
In a prepared statement, ISMS President Shastri Swaminathan said the bill is aimed at protecting patients rather than market share. For instance, the public would be up in arms if doctors sold cigarettes to their patients, so why should retail health clinics have these documented health hazards on their premises? We just want these clinics to have the public and patients best interests at heart and not just the financial bottom line. -- by Gregg Blesch
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