June 29, 2006
ASA Supports Health Care Truth and Transparency Act of 2006
Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) has introduced H.R. 5688, the “Health Care Truth and Transparency Act of 2006.” This legislation would strengthen FTC enforcement against limited-licensed health care providers and keep them from making deceptive misrepresentations as to their education, skills and training. It would also keep non-physicians from holding themselves out as medical doctors (MD), doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO), doctors of dental surgery (DDS) or doctors of dental medicine (DMD).
In furtherance of this new legislation, ASA was invited to join the Coalition for Healthcare Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency (CHART), a group of large national medical specialty and dental organizations dedicated to pursuing appropriate Federal legislative, regulatory and legal actions, such as support for H.R. 5688.
According to a recent survey, the vast majority of Americans—90 percent—want to know in advance of treatment if their provider is not a physician. Because of misleading statements and advertisements by some allied health professionals, however, patients are often confused about their providers’ qualifications.
CHART has documented numerous instances of non-physician healthcare providers holding themselves out to be medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy, or as having their medical qualifications, leading patients to believe they are seeing a medical doctor when they are not. Further, some allied health professional educational programs claim to offer the same training as four-year medical degree programs and subsequent medical specialty training. These false claims could mislead the public and endanger public safety.
ASA believes that H.R. 5688 would significantly reduce patient confusion and safeguard the public by prohibiting the dangerous practice of some health care providers who are not medical doctors using misleading terminology to misrepresent themselves or their qualifications. Patients should be confident in their healthcare decisions without having to second-guess their providers’ credentials.