In 1972, U.S. Congress passed Federal anti-kickback laws to protect patients from medical referrals based upon the health care provider receiving a kickback or financial incentive, rather than on medical necessity.
In general, kickbacks include the practice whereby a person or business pays someone to find new clients or referrals and/or pays that person a percentage of the increased transactions resulting from those referrals.
Florida’s Stark Laws address situations in which the health care provider has a business interest in the facility to which he/she makes referrals.
Anti-kickback laws regularly affect the daily practices of Florida’s health care professionals. The business of health care generates frequent referrals back and forth between providers of goods and services, and sometimes these relationships provide for unlawful financial incentives.
All health care practitioners should understand whether their inbound and outbound referral patterns are making them susceptible to liability under the Florida anti-kickback statutes because the penalties for non-compliance are severe. For example, violations of the Patient Brokering law are third-degree felonies, punishable by up to five years (10 years for habitual offenders) imprisonment, and a $5,000 fine.
Kickbacks take many different forms. Some are obvious, like providers who accept cash in exchange for referrals. But others are more subtle, such as a hospital giving providers reduced office rent in exchange for the informal agreement to refer patients to the hospital. It is surprisingly easy to unintentionally run afoul of Florida’s anti-kickback laws.
The FBI and state authorities actively enforce the anti-kickback laws. Even unintentional anti-kickback violations are prosecuted because the statutes do not require willful or knowing conduct.
Given the severe penalties under Florida’s anti-kickback laws, healthcare professionals and providers should work with an experienced health care attorney to ensure that their referral relationships are legitimate and do not lead to exposure under the law.
For 35 years, our healthcare lawyers at Chapman Law Group have been helping health care practitioners in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and all across Florida understand and comply with the anti-kickback laws, false claims matters, and Stark Law violations.
Our other offices are in Detroit (where we serve Dearborn, Troy, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, and the rest of Michigan); Los Angeles/Southern California; and Chicago.
Our extensive experience in key areas of regulatory compliance in healthcare include:
We serve healthcare professionals accused of False Claim Act and Stark Law violations, including:
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