U.S. Rule Might Require Patients To Show Photo IDs at Physician Offices
Beginning Aug. 1, patients might need to begin showing photo identification when visiting a physician's office to comply with a recent Federal Trade Commission regulation, the Ventura County Star reports.
Last August, FTC implemented its "Red Flags Rule" requiring creditors, including doctors, to obtain a valid proof of identity from clients. The rule aims to reduce identity theft.
The rule was scheduled to go into effect Nov. 1, 2008, but the agency delayed the deadline to May 1, 2009, after receiving pressure from the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association. Later, FTC agreed to push the deadline back to Aug. 1.
FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz said the agency decided to delay implementing the rule to "allow industries and associations to share guidance with their members."
Some health care providers are concerned that FTC did not consider how the regulation might affect medical practice.
Long Do, director of litigation for the California Medical Association, said, "The FTC gave organized medicine no warning about the Red Flags Rule, and consequently there was no participation by doctors when the rule was being considered and crafted."
He added that many people who seek health care -- such as the homeless, elderly or undocumented immigrants -- might lack photo identification. "The question is, are doctors supposed to start policing immigration laws when their primary responsibility is to take care of patients?" Do asked.
Ardis Hoven, member of AMA's board of trustees, said the regulation also might require more paperwork and staff exertion during a time when health facilities face tight budgets.
However, Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center, said the Red Flags Rule ultimately could save health care providers money by reducing medical fraud (Gregory, Ventura County Star, 6/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.