Investigate kickback laws related to vendor requests involving peer introductions

February 10, 2013

If you're a respected doctor in your community, some companies may want you to help grease the wheels of their introduction into the area. Here's what you need to know in order to keep any arrangement on the legal side.

Q: I am a well-known internist in my community. A medical supply company recently offered to pay me to make introductions to other doctors. Would such an arrangement be legal? 

A: In a word, no. Getting paid for influencing care or steering business is what the federal anti-kickback statutes were specifically designed to prevent.

A legal alternative would be to be hired by the medical company for a salary that is set at fair market value, and for a period of at least 1 year. Sometimes these arrangements include “incentive compensation” or bonuses as a way of providing additional income.

The safest way to structure an arrangement where you will be assisting in generating business is to be as transparent as possible. Don’t try to get your compensation “on the side.”

Attempting to fool the authorities may fatten your bank account, but it also will put you in legal jeopardy. It’s not a risk worth taking. Consult an attorney if you think you’re entering into a potential kickback situation.

The author is a healthcare department manager for Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum, PC, Garden City, New York. Send your practice management questions to medec@advanstar.com. Also engage at www.twitter.com/MedEconomics and www.facebook.com/MedicalEconomics