I had an inkling this was going to happen – and, as suspected, the FTC has (yet again) delayed the enforcement deadline date for the health care industry, with the latest deadline date being pushed all the way to June 1, 2010Without a doubt, recent developments over the last several weeks have helped spur this latest bump.

For instance, on August 27, 2009 the American Bar Association (ABA) filed a lawsuit against the FTC to bar the FTC’s enforcement of the Red Flags Rule against lawyers on November 1, 2009. That challenge proved successful when Judge Walton for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the 400,000 member ABA Summary Judgment on October 29, 2009

On October 8, 2009, Rep. John Adler (D-New Jersey) introduced H.R. 3763 specifically to exclude health care providers, accountants, and legal practices with 20 or fewer employees from having to comply with the Red Flags Rule.  On October 20, 2009, that legislation passed in the House, and is referred to and being considered by the Senate. 

What does all the foregoing mean for the health care industry?  For one, doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that qualify as “creditors” under the Red Flags Rule have more time to get their Identity Theft Prevention Program developed and adopted. Second, health care providers with 20 or fewer employees, such as smaller physician practices, will want to keep their eye on H.R. 3763 to see if its enactment will exempt them from having to comply with the Red Flags Rule all together. Finally, watch out for other industry groups that may now, in light of the ABA’s successful action, potentially consider filing similar actions to set aside the FTC’s regulation of their members; however, it is not clear whether such similar actions would be as successful as the ABA in light of the fact that Medical Identity Theft is a documented and real issue in the healthcare industry.