Fee Splitting: Clearing Up the Confusion

anti kickbackHealthcare professionals and businesses are aware of the term “fee splitting,” but rarely understand what that means, and for good reason.  Is there some federal law against that?  No.  Is there a state law?  Yes, but definitions are elusive and confusing.

Florida law prohibits licensed healthcare professionals engaging in any split-fee, rebate, commission or bonus in exchange for referral of any patient.  In particular, Section 456.054 states it is a violation of a state criminal statute for a “healthcare provider” to “offer, pay, solicit, or receive a kickback, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, for referring or soliciting patients.”

Is there a court in Florida that has interpreted that law or opined on the concept?  Not exactly.  The closest thing we have is the Crow decision, where the 5th District Court of Appeals affirmed a Board of Medicine handling an issue involving the concept. Continue reading

Avoiding Delays in License Renewals

Florida Medical BoardIt’s almost renewal time once again for many health care practitioners.  If this is your renewal cycle, please note the following information provided by the Florida Board of Medicine, which can help you avoid some of the most common delays encountered with license renewals.

It is important to remember the upcoming renewal is the first to have mandatory continuing medical education reporting requirements.  If you have not done so, please activate your account with CE Broker and ensure that all required CME you have completed for this renewal has been uploaded.

Most of the medical practitioners renewing will be required to submit the following:

  • Completed renewal application
  • Required fees
  • Evidence that you have practiced medicine or have been on the active faculty of an accredited medical school for at least two years of the immediately preceding four years
  • Completion of Financial Responsibility form
  • Completion of Physician Workforce Survey
  • Verification of Physician Profile
  • Verification of your current status relating to prescribing controlled substances for the treatment of chronic non-malignant pain

Continue reading

Physicians & Nurses in for a Long Ride on the Health Train

npsBy: Jackie Bain

Nearly half of U.S. States have already expanded the scope of nursing practice and several more are analyzing whether it is appropriate.  The debate between physicians and nurses regarding how much autonomy a nurse should be given is a political hotbed that will likely be revisited by the legislature in the near future.  Until that time, the Board of Medicine and the Board of Nursing will quietly continue to enforce the present requirements. Here’s how they stand today:

Under Florida’s current laws, in addition to the practice of professional nursing, an advanced registered nurse practitioner (“ARNP”) may perform acts of medical diagnosis, treatment and prescription. However, for the most part, such acts must be performed under the general supervision of a physician.  The nature of such a supervisory relationship should be identified in a protocol which identifies the medical acts to be performed and the conditions for their performance. Continue reading

Florida Medical Spas: Regulators Look Beyond the Surface

money syringeThere is no such thing as a “medical spa” in Florida.  True!  They are not uniquely licensed.  In fact, they are usually not licensed at all because (1) they are owned and operated by licensed healthcare professionals, and/or (2) they do not file claims for reimbursement with health insurers.  And they are not a regulated entity.

What then is a “medical spa”?  If you want the long answer, go here. The short answer is It’s simply a place where people receive traditional spa services (e.g. facials), plus many other medical procedures, typically focused on cosmetic services (e.g. hair removal, Botox).   It’s “medical” because of the nature of the services provided.  It’s “medical” because (ideally) physician supervision is woven into the business model.

Continue reading

Board of Medicine: New Rule Regarding Adequacy of Medical Records for Compounded Medication

gavelThe Florida Board of Medicine reviewed Rule 64B8-9.003, Florida Administrative Code which provides standards for the adequacy of medical records.  The underlined portions below are the new standards required for medical records as it relates to compounded medications.  These standards are effective September 9, 2013. Continue reading

The Stark Law Regulations: A Review

The Stark Regs (1) forbid doctors and their immediate family members from referring their patients to businesses they own which provide “designated health services,” and (2) contains a long list of permitted financial relationships between health care providers.  The list of what constitutes a “designated health service” (DHS) includes PT, rehab, diagnostic imaging, clinical lab, DME, and home health.  A “physician” means an M.D., D.O., chiropractor, podiatrist, optometrist or dentist.  An “immediate family member” is a husband or wife; birth or adoptive parent, child, or sibling; stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, or stepsister; father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law; grandparent or grandchild; and spouse of a grandparent or grandchild.  In short, if you or your family member owns a DHS, don’t refer to it.  Unless of course your situation falls within one or more of the gazillion exceptions.

A few key changes from the third set of revisions (so called Stark III) which affect physicians are helpful to keep in mind.  For instance, the way fair market value of physician compensation is determined  in the Stark II regs has been simplified and now depends on an amorphous consideration of the transaction, its location and other factors.  The clear formulas contained in Stark II was dropped and this makes the need for an expert FMV study even more compelling. Continue reading

Split-Fee Soup: A Recipe for Disaster

Cauldron-psd74325By: David Hirshfeld

When people ask me what I do, I used to say “I’m a transactional health care attorney.  I represent health care practitioners in their business deals.  I don’t do malpractice.”  That response does little to wipe the blank stare off my questioner’s face, and even I have to stifle the urge to yawn.  My new and improved response is that “I spend a lot of time advising health care practitioners how they can share fees with people who refer them patients.”  Now I get invited to all sorts of cocktail parties !!!

Practitioners split fees with one another for a variety of reasons; and they very often do not realize that a particular arrangement involves a split-fee arrangement, or that split-fee arrangements are often illegal in Florida.  The purpose of this article is to provide practitioners with a general overview of the concepts underlying the prohibition against split-fee arrangements in Florida, in the context of three common business arrangements. Continue reading