H.R. 5688: Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2006

Some Inconvenient Truths (to quote Al Gore) may be lurking behind the all-too-transparent Healthcare Truth act, according to one critique.

The Health Care Truth and Transparency Act would make it unlawful for any licensed health care provider who is not a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, doctor of dental surgery or doctor of dental medicine to "make any deceptive or misleading statement, or engage in any deceptive or misleading act, that deceives or misleads the public or a prospective or current patient" into thinking that the provider is an MD, osteopath or dentist, or possesses the same education, skills or training. Deceptive or misleading statements include "advertising in any medium, making false statements regarding the education, skills, training, or licensure of such person, or in any other way describing such person's profession, skills, training, experience, education, or licensure in a fashion that causes the public, a potential patient, or current patient" to believe the provider is a medical doctor, osteopath or dentist.

Some see a conspiratorial conflux of forces aiming to marginalize certain health care professions. According to Dynamic Chiropractic,

'The act's broad categorization of deceptive or misleading acts, combined with its vagueness as it pertains to individual state policies, could have a potentially devastating effect on the practice of chiropractic in the United States. Depending on its reading, the language could conceivably be interpreted to include existing scope-of-practice laws and licensing agencies that recognize chiropractors as physicians...."HR 5688 is the tip of the iceberg," explained ACA Chair Lewis Bazakos, DC. "It is part of a larger, anticompetitive effort to limit a wide array of health care professionals - including doctors of chiropractic - who often provide more effective and less costly care than do medical doctors. These actions by organized medicine will only limit access to providers who have the education and experience to provide safe, quality health care services."' (Attack on Chiropractic, Alternative Health Care Continues: More Pieces in an All-Too-Familiar Conspiracy Puzzle Fall Into Place; July 30, 2006, Volume 24, Issue 16; http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/24/16/02.html).

The "truths" and "transparencies" in the Act are already embodied in state licensing statutes (see Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives, 1998). The Act could be viewed as an enroachment on the states' Tenth Amendment right to regulate clinical healthcare practices, a federalization of what is essentially a state issue.

And the adage comes to mind that 'just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.'

The Act as it presently stands is quoted below:

09TH CONGRESS H. R. 5688
2D SESSION


To prohibit misleading and deceptive advertising or representation in the
provision of health care services.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
JUNE 27, 2006
Mr. SULLIVAN (for himself, Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas, Mr. BASS, Mr.
SCHWARZ of Michigan, Mr. BURGESS, Mr. BILIRAKIS, and Mr. SES-
SIONS) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee
on Energy and Commerce


A BILL
To prohibit misleading and deceptive advertising or
representation in the provision of health care services.

1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa-
2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
3 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

4 This Act may be cited as the ``Healthcare Truth and
5 Transparency Act of 2006''.
6 SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

7 Congress finds that--
hmoore on PROD1PC68 with HMBILLS 8 (1) the truthful exchange of information be-
9 tween patients and their health care providers is key

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1 to helping them understand their health care
2 choices;
3 (2) consumers believe that complex medical
4 issues, surgeries, procedures, and prescribing medi-
5 cations should be performed by medical doctors;
6 (3) consumers are often unaware of the dif-
7 ferences in, and seek more information about, the
8 qualifications, training, and education of their health
9 care providers;
10 (4) ample evidence exists of providers who are
11 not medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine,
12 doctors of dental surgery, or doctors of dental medi-
13 cine holding themselves out as such; and
14 (5) providers of health care services who are
15 not medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine,
16 or dentists are of vital importance to the Nation's
17 health care system.
18 SEC. 3. HEALTH CARE SERVICE PROVIDER UNFAIR AND DE-

19 CEPTIVE ACTS AND PRACTICES.

20 (a) CONDUCT PROHIBITED.--It shall be unlawful for
21 any person who is a licensed health care service provider
22 but who is not a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathic
23 medicine, doctor of dental surgery, or doctor of dental
hmoore on PROD1PC68 with HMBILLS 24 medicine to make any deceptive or misleading statement,
25 or engage in any deceptive or misleading act, that deceives


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1 or misleads the public or a prospective or current patient
2 that such person is a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathic
3 medicine, doctor of dental surgery, or doctor of dental
4 medicine or has the same or equivalent education, skills,
5 or training. Such deceptive or misleading statements or
6 acts shall include advertising in any medium, making false
7 statements regarding the education, skills, training, or li-
8 censure of such person, or in any other way describing
9 such person's profession, skills, training, experience, edu-
10 cation, or licensure in a fashion that causes the public,
11 a potential patient, or current patient to believe that such
12 person is a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathic medicine,
13 doctor of dental surgery, or doctor of dental medicine.
14 (b) ENFORCEMENT.--A violation of subsection (a)
15 shall be treated as an unfair or deceptive act or practice
16 prescribed under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commis-
17 sion Act (15 U.S.C. 45). The Federal Trade Commission
18 shall enforce this Act in the same manner, by the same
19 means, and with the same jurisdiction as though all appli-
20 cable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commis-
21 sion Act were incorporated into and made a part of this
22 Act.
23 SEC. 4. INVESTIGATION.

hmoore on PROD1PC68 with HMBILLS 24 As soon as practicable after the date of enactment
25 of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall conduct


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1 an investigation of health care providers engaging in the
2 conduct prohibited by section 3(a) to--
3 (1) identify specific acts and practices consti-
4 tuting a violation of such section;
5 (2) determine the frequency of such acts and
6 practices;
7 (3) identify instances of harm or injury result-
8 ing from such acts and practices; and
9 (4) identify instances where any State public
10 policy has permitted such acts and practices.
11 The Federal Trade Commission shall report its findings
12 to Congress not later than 1 year after the date of the
13 enactment of this Act.