The Federal Trade Commission announced late last week that it will be hosting a public Workshop, titled Examining Health Care Competition, which will examine “competition issues related to certain current developments in the U.S. health care industry.” The Workshop will take place on March 20-21 in Washington, D.C., and, in addition to health care reform legislation, will focus on recent developments reflecting general and longstanding concerns about cost, quality, access, and care coordination.

Specifically, the Federal Register notice describes in detail the five main issues the FTC intends to address:

  1. Professional regulation of health care providers, and how these regulations may affect competition and consumers;
  2. Innovations in health care delivery, including retail clinics and telemedicine;
  3. Advancements in health care technology that may have competitive implications, including new developments in electronic health records, health data exchanges, and technology platforms for health care payers and providers;
  4. Measuring and assessing quality of health care; and
  5. Price transparency of health care services.

The FTC invites comments on all of these topics. Comments must be submitted by March 10 to be considered prior to the Workshop but can be submitted anytime through April 30. The FTC will publish an agenda and list of speakers in the near future on the Workshop’s event page and will make the Workshop available via webcast.

This Workshop announcement is consistent with the FTC’s longstanding and continued focus on antitrust enforcement in the health care industry. As FTC Commissioner Julie Brill recently reiterated, “At the FTC, we are determined to use antitrust enforcement to maintain competition in the health care sector to help promote high quality, cost-effective care. The antitrust laws are vital to maintaining competitive health care.”