Even though the Anti-Kickback Statute is a federal criminal statute that results in serious penalties when violated, it is also one that physicians and healthcare professionals violate on a regular basis. If you believe you were referred to a physician or other healthcare provider as part of a monetary or other valuable exchange, you may have witnessed an Anti-Kickback Law violation. However, there are certain “safe harbors” that protect physician payment plans that would otherwise constitute a violation under the Anti-Kickback Statute. If you are unsure whether your physician’s payment plan falls into one of the safe harbors, contact the attorneys at Willoughby Brod to get your questions answered.
What is the Anti-Kickback Law?
The Anti-Kickback Statute says that physicians and hospitals are not permitted to refer patients to other healthcare providers in exchange for something of value, whether that is cash or something else. The purpose of this statute is to ensure that referrals are genuine and based on merit rather than based on familial or professional networks.
When Apparent Violations Against Anti-Kickback Law are Not Actually Violations
Not all physician payment plans constitute a violation of Anti-Kickback Law. In fact, the statute provides a list of safe harbors that protect physicians and healthcare providers from liability in situations that would otherwise violate the Anti-Kickback Statute. Below is a list of the safe harbors:
- Investment interests: A payment that constitutes a return on an investment interest, such as a dividend or interest income, is not a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute as long as certain provisions are met.
- Property leases: A payment made by a lessee to a lessor for use of the premises is not a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
- Equipment rentals: A payment made by a lessee to a lessor for use of equipment is not a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
- Personal services and management contracts: A payment made by a principal to an agent as compensation for services performed by the agent does not constitute a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
- Sale of a practice: A payment made by one practitioner to another as payment for purchasing the practice does not constitute a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
- Discounts: A discount given on a good or service purchased within the same fiscal year does not constitute a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
- Equipment warranties: A buyer may receive a discounted or free item, as long as he or she reports it to Medicare or Medicaid.
To see a complete list of Anti-Kickback safe harbors, click here.
If you believe you may have witnessed a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute or been involved in a transaction that was in violation to the Anti-Kickback Statute, contact one of our attorneys to have your case reviewed for free. Our attorneys will advise you of any safe harbor provisions that the actions you witnessed may fall under and how you should proceed. Contact us online or at (800) 427-7020 today to speak with an experienced Anti-Kickback Law attorney in the Santa Rosa and San Francisco area and receive a free consultation of your case.
(image courtesy of Ken Treloar)