The Declaratory Ruling and Order issued by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) July 10, 2015, clarified several sections of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), including addressing a petition filed by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management regarding “free, pro-consumer… healthcare-related messages,” and under what circumstances such messages are exempt from the TCPA’s requirement for prior express consent. The FCC spelled out what types of health care-related calls fall under the exemption, and included some limitations on this exemption:
- The calls must be free to the end user
- The calls must be made by or on behalf of a health care provider
- The calls can be made or sent only to the cell phone number provided by the patient
- The calls or texts must state the name and contact information of the health care provider and must be concise
- A health care provider may only make one exempt call or send one exempt text per day, with a weekly limit of three total calls or texts
- The health care provider must offer the recipient an opportunity to opt out of receiving these types of calls or texts, and honor those opt outs immediately
- The exclusive method for opting out of text messages is for the recipient to reply with the word “STOP,” so recipients must be given that instruction
The FCC’s clarification helps companies better understand which health care-related calls do not require consent, and those that still may require the prior express consent.
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