Under the federal Anti-Kickback statute, doctors and other healthcare professionals are prohibited from knowingly or willfully paying, offering, soliciting, or accepting remuneration in exchange for patient referrals. Under the statute, it is also illegal to offer something of value or pay for payments of goods and services that healthcare professionals are reimbursed for by the federal government.
The purpose of the law is to protect both patients and the federal government from fraud and abuse by involving money in healthcare decisions. The penalties for violating the Anti-Kickback statute are steep. Healthcare professionals can face up to ten years in federal prison, a fine of $100,000, or both. However, healthcare professionals are also protected by several ‘safe harbors’ under the law. These are provisions that give healthcare professionals immunity from the Anti-Kickback statute. Although there are several safe harbors, the most common are found below.