An increasing number of patients are missing doctor appointments, blood draws, X-ray appointments, and other routine non-emergency testing due to lack of transportation. Statistics show that over three million patients each year will miss a medical appointment because of transportation issues. Many patients in rural areas have limited access to transportation for non-emergency medical appointments.
To remedy this problem, certain hospitals and medical providers have begun to offer transportation services to patients in need of non-emergency transport to medical facilities. While medical providers have used taxi services or provided patients with public transportation vouchers in the past, ridesharing has gained popularity in recent years.
Use of Ridesharing Companies
For many physicians, partnering with ride sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, appears to be a workable solution to the transportation problem. However, physicians should be careful to check if any ridesharing partnership complies with the requirements of anti-kickback laws. Under state and federal anti-kickback laws, physicians are prohibited from referring a Medicaid or Medicare patient to a health care entity where the physician or their family has a financial interest.
Penalties for violating anti-kickback laws can be significant for physicians and other medical providers. Civil fines can be imposed in amounts up to $10,000 per violation, while criminal fines range from $25,000 to $210,000 per incident. Under certain circumstances, a jail sentence of up to five years may also be imposed on a violator.
Safe Harbor from Anti-Kickback Laws
To ensure that anti-kickback laws are not being violated, physicians and other medical providers that partner with ridesharing companies should avoid any appearance that the payments made for the patient’s rides are not influencing the selection of the medical provider or supplier of the medical services.
The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified several safe harbor provisions that protect ridesharing partnerships from facing prosecution under anti-kickback laws. Medical transportation should only be provided to established patients and should not be targeted towards profitable patient groups. Ridesharing companies that offer medical transportation should offer the services uniformly without marketing or advertisement. Ridesharing companies are prohibited from offering any luxury medical transportation options.
Healthcare experts also caution both physicians and ridesharing companies involved in this partnership to always remain vigilant that the privacy of the patients remain a high priority to ensure compliance with HIPAA laws and anti-kickback statutes.
Philadelphia Physician Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Physicians Charged with Violating Anti-Kickback Laws
If you are a physician who has been accused of accepting kickbacks or otherwise violating anti-kickback statutes such as Stark Law, the Philadelphia physician lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. are ready to assist you. Our office is conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and our experienced physician lawyers proudly represent health care professionals from the surrounding areas. Call us today to schedule your free confidential consultation at 215-569-1999 or submit an online inquiry form.