On May 30, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) joined the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, and other healthcare groups in a friend of the court brief submitted before the United States Supreme Court concerning a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case. Under review is a federal appellate court’s decision to uphold a FTC order that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners violated federal antitrust laws when it issued cease-and-desist letters to non-dentist teeth-whitening providers in the state. At issue is whether the antitrust "state action doctrine" protects the work of state licensure boards.
The brief provided in part, “Neither the FTC nor private antitrust plaintiffs are well-situated to determine what constitutes the practice of medicine or dentistry, much less how to best regulate the practice of medicine or dentistry to protect the health and well-being of patients.” Arguments for the case will likely be heard in the fall. ASA staff will continue to monitor this case and provide updates.
In correspondence and a face-to-face meeting, ASA has previously expressed concern to the FTC about the Commission’s letters to state medical boards and legislatures prompting boards and legislatures to take action contrary to patient safety.
In 2013, the ASA joined a similar friend of the court brief before the Supreme Court in support of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners’ request for review of the appellate court’s decision. The request for Supreme Court review was approved in March.
This April, the ASA submitted formal comments to the FTC strongly urging the agency to modify its current position on the application of the state action doctrine to state licensing authorities and end its related enforcement policies against those agencies. The comments further detailed the importance of states regulating health professionals, which promotes competition that leads to high quality care and the protection of patient safety.
Previous ASA letters