FTC Delays Enforcement of Red Flags Rule Against Doctors & Hospitals Until Appeals Court Rules

On June 25, 2010, federal district court judge Reggie B. Walton of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia entered a stipulated court order (.pdf) directing the  Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to delay enforcement of the FTC’s Red Flags Rule against doctors and medical practices represented by the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Osteopathic Association.  The FTC and AMA agreed to this delay in a Joint Stipulation (.pdf), filed in the lawsuit initiated by the AMA and other medical associations to exclude doctors and other medical professionals from the application of the Red Flags Rule. 

The key issue in the case is whether medical practices should be considered "creditors" under the Red Flags Rule and the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA or the FACT Act).  The case follows lawsuits filed beginning in 2009 by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to exclude lawyers and accountants from the scope of the new rules.  In October 2009, Judge Walton ruled that lawyers were not "creditors" subject to the Red Flags Rule.  The FTC has appealed the order and the Unites States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is expected to issue a decision clarifying the scope of the law.

In the recently approved stipulation, the AMA and the FTC have agreed to stay their dispute until the Court of Appeals issues its opinion.  The FTC has also agreed to delay enforcement of the Red Flags Rule for 90 days after the Appeals Court issues its ruling.

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