For the last two years, many have been speculating about when or even if the FTC would launch a review of the Funeral Rule. For many reasons, including staff vacancies at the FTC, nothing has happened.
During a workshop at the 2019 NFDA International Convention & Expo, Patti Poss, FTC Funeral Rule coordinator, explained what the review procedure would look like if and when it is launched.
First, the FTC would issue a formal invitation for interested parties to submit comments on what parts of the Rule need to be revised or updated. The FTC Staff could also hold a roundtable meeting for interested parties to discuss these issues but they are not required to do so.
After comments are submitted, the FTC staff would make a recommendation to the Commission whether to reopen the Rule. The Commissioners would vote whether to open the Funeral Rule up for revisions.
If the Commission decided not to open up the Rule, they would simply close the review like they did in 1999.
If they decide to open the Funeral Rule up for review, the FTC would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would outline the specific issues they want to look at. Again, there would be more comments and possibly formal hearings during which testimony is given.
The FTC Staff would take all of that information and make a recommendation to the FTC on whether and how to revise the Rule. The FTC Commissioners would then vote on whether and how to amend the Rule.
Any party not happy with the Commission-approved revisions could appeal the results to the U.S. Court of Appeals, as NFDA and the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association did in 1994 with the casket handling fee amendments.
It’s a two-step process and there is no guaranty that we get passed the first step and it remains unclear if or when a review would begin.
NFDA continues to monitor the status of any potential review and, if one is launched, we will be actively engaged in the process.
Look for more information about the latest updates from the FTC in the January 23 issue of the Memorial Business Journal.