As a former dentist, I have experienced first-hand the enormous amount of bureaucracy and government regulation that our local doctors and dentists encounter everyday. I have seen how unnecessary regulations increase costs and do nothing to improve patient treatment or care. For these reasons, I am pleased to join Congressman John Adler (NJ-03) and my colleagues in introducing HR 2345, which would exclude small health care practices from the Red Flags rule. This common-sense legislation recognizes that physicians and dentists are not bankers or financial institutions and should not be subject to the same rules and regulations.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 included a section requiring financial institutions and creditors to develop and implement a written identity theft program, known as the Red Flags program. After the final rules were implemented, the Federal Trade Commission notified the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) that health professionals are considered creditors for the purpose of the final rule and are thus required to implement a Red Flags program.

I believe that the FTC interpretation of the Red Flags rule has gone far beyond Congress’s intent and fails to consider the financial burden this decision will have on dental and medical practices and those of other health care providers across the country. The FTC defines healthcare providers as “creditors” only because providers are willing to work with patients on developing flexible payment plans for those patients that can’t afford to pay at the time of service. This rule seems to actually discourage such efforts to improve access to care for people who can’t afford to pay, which is exactly contrary to all of Congress’s current efforts to reform our health care system. This system should not be treated the same as a loan with a financial institution. It is obvious that physicians and dentists are not creditors, and they should not be forced to spend hundreds of dollars to comply with this needless regulation.

Increasing the amount of bureaucracy and needless government regulation for healthcare providers will only increase the costs of healthcare for our patients. At a time when Congress is focused on making healthcare more affordable and accessible, this is the wrong decision.