government

Obama signs red flags bill

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 3, 2011

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President Obama on Dec. 18, 2010, signed legislation that excludes physicians from being considered creditors and thus from being required to implement an identity theft prevention plan.

Congress approved a bill that would keep most doctors from having to comply with the so-called red flags rule, which mandates certain ID theft protection measures such as monitoring programs. The American Medical Association and other physician organizations have argued for years that the red flags regulation poses a bureaucratic burden for medical professionals who already are subject to regulations that safeguard patient information.

The organizations said the measure is a step toward resolving the problem. But they still are waiting for the Federal Trade Commission to acknowledge publicly that the agency will comply with the physician exemption.

Until that happens, a lawsuit filed by the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and the State Medical Societies against the FTC will continue. The suit also will not be dropped until the resolution of a similar lawsuit filed by the American Bar Assn. against the FTC, the AMA said.

"The AMA is pleased that this legislation supports AMA's long-standing argument to the FTC that physicians are not creditors," AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, said in a statement.

"AMA's efforts have made a difference for physicians, with five delays of the red flags rule implementation date already," he added. "We hope that the FTC will now withdraw its assertion that the red flags rule applies to physicians."

The FTC said it was pleased that Congress clarified the original statute, which was "clearly overbroad." But at this article's deadline, the agency had issued no further announcement about anything concerning the red flags rule since the enactment of the latest bill.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/01/03/gvbf0103.htm.

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