FTC Takes a Closer Look at Competition in Healthcare

The FTC has become increasingly interested in the competition in the healthcare sector. The FTC held a workshop on March 20 and 21, 2014 to more closely examine fives areas related to healthcare competition that are of interest to the Commission. As previously described by the FTC, these issues included:
1) Professional regulation of health care providers - The FTC has long been interested in the professional regulation of health care providers. The workshop will bring together experts to discuss developments relating to accreditation, credentialing, licensure, and scope of practice, and the ways in which these regulatory tools may affect competition and consumers.

2) Innovations in health care delivery - In recent years, several new models for health care delivery have emerged, including retail clinics and telemedicine. Some of these models may offer significant cost savings while maintaining, or even improving, quality of care. These models may also increase the supply of health care services, which may expand consumer access to care. The FTC intends to consider the potential benefits of these new health care delivery models, as well as the impact of regulatory frameworks on their development.

3) Advancements in health care technology - The FTC intends to explore the potential competitive implications of recent advances in health care technology, such as electronic health care records, health data exchanges, technology platforms for health care payers and providers, and certain other consumer-oriented technological advances.

4) Measuring and assessing quality of health care - The FTC intends to examine how recent developments in measuring and assessing health quality may impact competition and health care choices made by providers, consumers, and others.

5) Price transparency of health care services - Improved price transparency, often in conjunction with quality information, may help consumers and others understand the actual costs of health care services, and may help to control costs. Some forms of price transparency, however, may facilitate price coordination among health care providers, thereby dampening competition. The FTC intends to explore the competitive implications of recent efforts to make price information more transparent to patients, providers, employers, payers, and other health care decision-makers.
The workshop was recorded. The materials are available here: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/2014/03/examining-health-care-competition (scroll down to the Event Details section).

The FTC also announced on May 5, 2014 that it was extending the comment period to May 16, 2014.

See Press Release, FTC Extends Public Comment Period for Healthcare Competition Workshop Through May 16, 2014, FTC (May 5, 2014), available at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/05/ftc-extends-public-comment-period-healthcare-competition-workshop?utm_source=govdelivery.

See Press Release, FTC to Host Public Workshop Examining U.S. Health Care Competition (Feb. 14, 2014), available at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/02/ftc-host-public-workshop-examining-us-health-care-competition.

FTC, Events Calendar: Examining Health Care Competition, https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/2014/03/examining-health-care-competition (last visited May 5, 2014).

Posted by Tatiana Melnik May 5, 2014.

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