Administrative Law

AMA Takes Page from ABA Playbook, Sues FTC Over Red Flags Rule

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Physician groups, including the American Medical Association, have taken a leaf out of the American Bar Association’s playbook.

They filed a lawsuit today contending that health care organizations should not be included among businesses such as banks, credit card issuers and mortgage lenders required by the Federal Trade Commission’s so-called Red Flags Rule to adopt new measures to protect customers from identity theft.

The AMA and other groups had earlier sought an agreement from the FTC that it wouldn’t apply the Red Flags Rule to health care professionals until a federal court ruling in an ABA lawsuit asserting that the Red Flags Rule doesn’t apply to lawyers is finally resolved on appeal. However, the FTC refused to hold off on the scheduled June 1, 2010 effective date, saying that this case applies to lawyers rather than doctors, recounts the complaint (PDF) filed today by the physician groups in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The AMA suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and attorney’s fees.

While the litigation seeks to overturn what the lawsuit describes as an arbitrary and capricious exercise of FTC power, it doesn’t relieve physicians of the obligation to comply with the looming June 1 deadline for enforcement of the new anti-identity-theft standards in the meantime as the suit proceeds, the AMA explains in a press release.

The release links to further information about what doctors need to do to comply with the Red Flags Rule.

The federal District of Columbia court decision holding that the Red Flags Rule doesn’t apply to lawyers is American Bar Association v. FTC, 671 F. Supp. 2nd 64 (2009). A link to the opinion is provided by Google scholar.

Additional and related coverage: “After ABA Wins ‘Red Flags’ Suit Over ID Theft Rules, Accountants Sue, Too” “FTC to Appeal Judge’s Decision That ‘Red Flags’ Rule Doesn’t Apply to Lawyers” “ABA Says Proposed FTC Rule on Mortgage Relief Over-Regulates Attorneys”

Health Data Management: “AMA, Others Sue to Stop Red Flags Rule”

Modern Healthcare (reg. req.): “Docs seek to block ‘red flags’ rules

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