3 Things Psychiatrists Need to Know About the Anti-Kickback Statute

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits individuals and entities from offering anything of value, whether cash or otherwise, in exchange for any federal healthcare program business. Federal healthcare programs include Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, Department of Labor health programs, and more. Any violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) can result in civil fines, criminal penalties, and program removals. As such, it is important that psychiatrists abide by the Anti-Kickback Statute by ensuring that an experienced healthcare attorney reviews all of their new or proposed business arrangements. Jackson LLP’s attorneys also provide litigation management services to help coordinate the defense of a provider’s case who has been found to have violated the Anti-Kickback Statute.

Below are three tips for psychiatrists to remember about maintaining their Anti-Kickback compliance. 

(1) Educate yourself about non-compliant activities

It can be easy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute if you do not know which types of conduct constitute violations! The first step is to educate yourself on the types of actions which are prohibited by the AKS. If you are confused or unsure about the meaning behind any part of the statute, our attorneys can walk you through an analysis of your proposed business arrangement and the law’s restrictions.

In 2016, a Chicago psychiatrist was sentenced to nine months in prison for receiving kickbacks worth nearly $600,000 from a pharmaceutical company in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute. For years, the psychiatrist prescribed an expensive brand of medication to his elderly patients even though a much cheaper generic form was available. In exchange, he received consulting fees and entertainment benefits, like meals, tickets to sporting events, and all-expenses-paid vacations. In addition to the nine-month prison sentence, the judge also ordered a $592,000 forfeiture and 120 hours of community service for the 72-year-old psychiatrist.

(2) Know your safe harbors

The Anti-Kickback Statute offers several safe harbors. By incorporating the following safe harbors into your practice, you can help ensure your AKS compliance and reduce the likelihood of being subjected to penalties for violating the Anti-Kickback Statute.

Below is a list of safe harbors to consider incorporating into your practice:

  • Investment interests
  • Property leases
  • Equipment rentals
  • Personal services and management contracts
  • Sale of a practice
  • Referral services
  • Warranties
  • Discounts
  • Group purchasing organizations
  • Waiver of beneficiary copayment, coinsurance, and deductible amounts

(3) Develop standards and procedures for engaging in proper arrangements

Once you can identify improper actions under the AKS and which safe harbors are available to you, it’s time to create standardized procedures that you and your staff must follow when engaging in proper arrangements with other healthcare providers and suppliers. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, and you will have formal documentation to show investigators in case an allegation is made against you. This can help demonstrate that you were, in fact, following proper procedures and are compliant with the Anti-Kickback Statute.

If you need help creating an Anti-Kickback compliant practice or believe you may have violated the Anti-Kickback Statute, book a free consultation online

If you found this post helpful, you may enjoy learning more on our Psychiatry, Litigation Management, Anti-Kickback Statute, and Contracting pages.  You might also find our blog post titled Does Your Practice Accept Medicare or Medicaid? You Need a Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Compliance Plan helpful!

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