Radiology group settles case involving Anti-Kickback Statute
The Anti-Kickback Statute makes it illegal to pay or solicit anything of value in exchange for referrals.
A recent case out of Florida is providing an example of an Anti-Kickback Statute violation. The case, covered in a report by Health Business Daily, involves a radiology group that provided gift cards to employees that worked in the offices of doctors that often referred patients to their practice. Gift cards were given to 100 different physicians, with amounts varying in correlation to the number of referrals received from the organization.
Anti-Kickback Statute defined
These gifts resulted in accusations that the radiology practice violated the Anti-Kickback Statute. The Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team along with the Office of Inspector General define the Anti-Kickback Statute as a law that:
Prohibits offering, paying, soliciting or receiving anything of value to induce or reward referrals or generate Federal health care program business
In order to violate this law, the action must be both knowing and willful. This law applies to anyone, not just those within the medical field.
Penalties for violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute
Penalties for violations are harsh. If convicted, criminal penalties can include imprisonment of up to five years and a monetary fine of $25,000 for each violation. Additional civil penalties can apply as well. These can include $50,000 monetary penalty per violation and a civil assessment that can be up to three times the amount of the actual kickback.
Lessons from the case
The case provides an example of the importance of educating medical professionals on the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Laws. Both laws are designed to help ensure patients receive quality care by keeping physicians from getting into situations which could be interpreted as exchanging gifts for referrals. An understanding of these laws is needed to help avoid noncompliance.
Importance of legal counsel
In addition to the harsh penalties, those accused of these crimes also suffer damage to their reputation. As a result, it is wise to take these allegations seriously and contact an experienced Anti-Kickback lawyer.