Competition for health care business is strong. Every possible service from pharmaceutical manufacturers to providers of durable medical equipment has sales reps fighting for business. Some are careful to avoid violating Federal Anti-Kickback statutes while others are not. Doctors and health care facilities can easily become victims when unscrupulous sales practices draw them into violating the law. Recently, Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in Parsippany, New Jersey did just that, thus far drawing at least 32 physicians into their illegal scheme.
How a Physician Can Inadvertently Violate Federal Anti-Kickback Laws
Kickbacks are a form of fraud. Health care laws are intended to prevent over-billing, needless procedures, and other fraudulent practices from occurring by removing monetary incentive from recommendations. The intent behind anti-kickback laws is that a doctor should only consider what is in the best interest of a patient when making referrals to medical services; medical services that incentivize physicians with gifts and money skew sound judgement.
Since passage of the law, most medical suppliers have been careful to avoid crossing the line between proper sales tactics and improper kickbacks. Yet, some still manage to bribe physicians in ways that are subtle enough to go unnoticed. Some of the ways a doctor or medical office can find themselves in trouble with the law include:
- Offering a percentage of the service price rendered
- Providing incentives for more clients referred
- Large gifts such as vacation homes and vehicles in exchange for business
- Small gifts such as jewelry, clothing, and electronics as a reward for being a great referral client
- A gift sent for a special occasion
- Any other gift
The list above is presented to illustrate how the line between what is not acceptable as a bribe, but is often accepted, occurs in steps. Often, a sales representative will arrive at the office with donuts or cookies. Although this seems minor, it is a bribe in the eyes of the law. The donuts are a way of incentivizing office employees to allow the sales representative time and access to the physician. Because the value is so low, many people fail to recognize the illegal nature of the transaction. Additionally, law enforcement is not likely to pursue charges involving something so minor.
Once a sales representative is successful in providing small items, the gifts that will be accepted for returning business can be increased and often will. In time, the sales organization may be providing vacations and more. The only thing left then is direct bribery, at which time the physician is too deeply involved in the scheme to back out.
Philadelphia Health Care Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Advocate for Physicians Accused of Kickback Fraud
When a physician is charged with medical fraud in connection to kickbacks, strong legal council is needed. Philadelphia health care lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates have been helping physicians for over 35 years. If you are facing charges of violating Federal Anti-kickback statutes, do not wait. Contact us online or call now at 215-569-1999. From our offices in Philadelphia we help clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.