Healthcare Reform In The News

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper or turned on the news over the past few years has surely heard quite a lot about healthcare reform. It has been one of the hottest topics surrounding President Obama’s term and continues to play out in the news. It can be a bit complicated to follow, but it is important for everyone to understand the reform since it will affect each citizen.

One of the reasons that the news has covered healthcare reform so extensively is that it was the first major achievement of President Obama’s term. Like most major achievements, it has also been one of the most controversial issues with which his presidency is associated. The press has tried to present both sides of the issues so that American can take an informed stance.

Another reason that the reform has been so newsworthy, aside from the fact that it affects everyone, is that it is an issue that has been tackled by many presidents before Obama. Presidents Truman and Clinton both tried to tackle national healthcare and failed. Passing any legislation on the issues, whether or not it is popular, marks a significant place in history for President Obama.

There has been quite a lot of controversy surrounding the reform and it has extended beyond commentary in the news. Challenges to the legislation have been filed across the country, especially concerning the individual mandate factor. This element requires that every citizen have health insurance or pay a fine if they choose to forego it.

Most news outlets have tried to remain impartial and present both sides of the health reform debate. Some people are against it because they believe it gives the government too much control over private healthcare. Those who are in favor of the reform believe that it will make much-needed healthcare available to those who otherwise would not be able to afford it on their own.

Whether or not someone agrees with the recent healthcare reform legislation, they cannot deny that it has marked a major event in American history. There is more than enough news coverage on the topic and most sources have tried to help Americans draw their own conclusions by providing unbiased information about the policies. It is likely that this will continue to be a prominent topic in the news and all American citizens should be sure to stay well informed on all new developments.

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Website Legal Compliance – FTC Accelerates Crackdown On Fake News Sites health news outlets

We’ve all seen headlines in search results like this one – “XYZ Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam”. And perhaps we actually believed there was objective reporting or unbiased commentary behind the headline. But after reading the web page, it was clear that the headline was just a clever way to catch your attention and lure you to a sales page with an aggressive sales pitch.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has seen these headlines too, and the FTC doesn’t think they’re clever at all. In fact, the FTC believes they constitute deceptive and unfair trade practices, as indicated by the FTC’s accelerated crackdown on affiliates of a popular diet drink with aggressive weight loss claims.

Modus Operandi

The modus operandi of these sites was to start with attention grabbing headlines such as the one listed above and these additional ones – “News 6 News Alerts,” “Health News Health Alerts,” or “Health 5 Beat Health News.”

The sites presented what appeared to be a skeptical commentator who raises the question of whether the diet drink is really effective. The commentator appeared to be objective; however, after a few paragraphs the commentator would conclude that use of the diet drink would result in a 25-pound weight loss in 4 weeks – all this without changing diet or exercise according to the FTC.

The prices for the supplement ranged between $70 and $100.

The FTC’s Claims

When the FTC originally initiated law suits against these sites, Charles Harwood, Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection stated: “We are alleging that nearly everything about these Web sites is false and deceptive”. In addition, the FTC pointed out that the defendants aggressively promoted the deceptive ads by spending millions of dollars for placement on high volume websites resulting in millions of views by consumers and substantial sales.

Specifically, the FTC contended that the offending sites -

* failed to disclose their material relationships involving the payment of affiliate commissions with the merchants of the products;

* failed to produce independent tests to support the claims made prior to public dissemination;

* included a section of “consumer comments” that were completely fabricated;

* used infringing logos of reputable media outlets such as ABC, Fox News, CNN and Consumer Reports to give the false impression of credibility; and

* misappropriated the image of a French reporter for use on the sites.

The Settlements

The cases brought by the FTC were against six affiliates of the merchant that manufactured and supplied the weight loss supplement.

In the settlements, the defendants agreed that they will permanently cease their allegedly deceptive practice of using fake news websites. In addition, the settlements require that the defendants cease making deceptive claims about their other products, including work-at-home schemes and penny auctions which most of them promoted.

The big hammer in the settlements included fines in an aggregate amount which represented the affiliate commissions the defendants received through their fake news sites.

These settlement results clearly indicate that the FTC aggressively pursued every dollar they could under the circumstances (the final amounts left most of them with few real assets, if any):

* one defendant’s $2.5 million judgment was suspended when he pays $280,000 and records a $39,500 lien on his home;

* another defendant’s fine of $204,000 was suspended pending the payment of $13,000 plus the proceeds from the sale of a BMW automobile, and

* still another defendant was suspended pending the payment of almost $80,000 over a 3 year period.


The take-aways from these cases include -

* fake news sites are virtually guaranteed to get you sued by the FTC,

* ditto for fake testimonials or user comments,

* diet supplements of any kind are high on the FTC’s radar screen for regulatory scrutiny,

* the FTC is serious about enforcing its guidelines that affiliates are required to conspicuously disclose the fact that they are paid commissions for endorsements, and

* consistent with the FTC’s long-standing policy, advertising claims should be substantiated prior to public dissemination.

The FTC continues to make it absolutely clear that the days of the “Wild, Wild West” on the Internet, when it was open season on deceptive marketing practices, is clearly over for good.

This article is provided for educational and informative purposes only. This information does not constitute legal advice, and should not be construed as such.

Website Legal Compliance – FTC Accelerates Crackdown On Fake News Sites