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.
FDA, EMEA partner on inspections program
WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have joined together to pilot a good manufacturing practice inspections program.
Under the bilateral agreement, the program will apply to facilities in both the U.S. and the European Union. Also, joint inspections of active pharmaceutical ingredient facilities in countries outside the U.S. and the EU will be part of the program.
The agencies will pilot a GMP information exchange covering inspection schedules and results. Information on facilities that have been inspected would be shared so the agencies could get greater inspection coverage and better identify API production sites in countries outside the U.S. and the EU.
“The collaboration on inspections should result in more effective use of resources and a higher safety level of product from third countries,” the European Commission, which lists new GMP initiatives the two agencies undertake, said.
Study shows Mass. plan drops uninsurance rate, decreases expenses
CHICAGO According to a study performed by the Urban Institute, the uninsurance rate for Massachusetts adults has dropped by more than half and residents were paying less in out-of-pocket health expenses, as reported by the Associated Press.
Researchers from the institute interviewed 3,000 Massachusetts residents in the fall of 2006, just before the law took effect, and conducted a second round of interviews a year later. The uninsurance rate among working age adults dropped from 13 to 7 percent. The biggest drop was among poorer residents.
The finding reflects the fact that nearly 350,000 residents have been added to the ranks of the insured in Massachusetts under the law, which created a subsidized health care program for those earning less than three times the federal poverty level.
The share of adults reporting out-of-pocket expenses of more than $500 dropped by four percent. The percent of low-income adults reporting out-of-pocket expenses of more than $3,000 fell eight percent.
In another positive finding, low-income adults were more likely to have a place to go when they were sick and were more likely to visit a doctor for preventative care.
One fear—that employers would begin dropping health coverage as the new law took effect—hasn’t materialized, according to the report.