Bill Would Require 'Truth in Advertising' Regarding Health Care Roles

The AAFP and other physician-led organizations have expressed support for a bipartisan House bill that would legally prohibit health care professionals from making deceptive statements or engaging in behavior that misleads patients in advertisements and marketing efforts.

[Nothing but TRUTH]

The bill, known as the Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act, or H.R. 1427, also requires the Federal Trade Commission to pay particular attention to false and misleading advertising among all health care professionals and to provide added resources for the enforcement of consumer protection laws in the health care setting.

In an April 17 sign-on letter(43 KB PDF) to the two sponsors of the legislation, Reps. Larry Bucshon, M.D., R-Ind., and David Scott, D-Ga., the AAFP, the AMA and 13 other physician organizations praise the intent of the bill, saying it "will empower patients by improving transparency in health care provider-related advertisements and marketing."

"As physicians, we often hear from our patients regarding the frustration and difficulty associated with navigating our health care system," says the letter. "Recent studies confirm America's patients prefer a physician-led approach to health care and are often confused about the level of training and education of their health care providers -- including physicians, technicians, nurses, physician assistants and other allied providers."

In the letter, the AAFP and the other groups point out that "patients lack information about the wide diversity of professionals who work in health care settings, and they are understandably confused by the increasing ambiguity of health care provider-related advertisements and marketing. Because of this uncertainty, patient-centered care and decision-making have been compromised."

The AAFP and the other groups also praise the bill for providing "modest, yet meaningful, increases in resources" to help enforce consumer protection laws in the health care setting.

In a prepared statement(, Bucshon said, "It is imperative that health care consumers have adequate information, including the education and training level of the health care professionals treating them so that they are able to make wise health care choices.

"Ultimately, this bill will protect patient autonomy and decision-making and improve our health care system."