OIG Frowns Again on Proposed Company Model Arrangements with Anesthesiologists

anesthIn December, 2012, the OIG reviewed and frowned upon two proposed scenarios, each of which had the effect of shifting to ASC-owner/surgeons a portion of the fees earned from anesthesia services.  The OIG has done it again!

In an era of tremendous stress in the healthcare marketplace, it’s not surprising that some surgeons were willing to push the envelope to capture anesthesia fees they otherwise would not receive.  Traditionally, physician-owned surgery and endoscopy centers contract with anesthesia providers on an exclusive basis and let the anesthesiologists separately bill for anesthesia services.  Anesthesiologists kept whatever was collected for anesthesia services; and surgeons kept whatever was paid for their services.  Plus, if the surgeon was also an owner of the center, the surgeon received a portion of the profits left over from the facility or technical fee.  In the past several years, however, center-owning surgeons are often looking for ways to share anesthesia fees.  The latest OIG Advisory Opinion (13-15) may cause some surgeons to back down or to reevaluate the long-term viability of the so-called “Company Model.”  Continue reading

OIG Shoots Down Physician Owned Distributorships (PODS)

Physician owned distributorships (PODs) have been the source of considerable controversy for years.  A couple years ago, they caught the attention of Congress.  Now, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (“OIG”) has issued a Fraud Alert making clear their dislike of PODs and sending a clear shot across the bow of those who are in that industry.

PODs distribute various things, most commonly surgical implants and devices, that are reimbursed by insurers.  A patient needs a spinal rod, a surgical implant/device company makes it and a distributor rep distributes it.  Device/implant companies usually contract with distributorships to sell their products.  Distributorships contract with reps who are paid commissions for sales.  Surgeons who actually order the devices sometimes think “Since I’m the one doing the surgery and ordering all this stuff, why can’t I earn something from that?  I’m not ordering anything I don’t need or that I don’t think is good for the patient.”  PODs are one way for physicians to financially benefit from the sales of devices and items their patients need, but they have never been more controversial than now. Continue reading