Anti-Kickback and Physician Self-Referral (Stark) Laws

Many different laws and regulations govern the healthcare industry. The federal Anti-Kickback and Stark laws are two of the most important federal laws that Florida healthcare lawyers have dealt with. These laws generally prohibit healthcare providers from profiting off referrals relating to Medicare services.

Anti-Kickback Law

The Anti-Kickback statute prohibits receiving compensation for making referrals for Medicare services. Along with prohibiting making referrals for money, the law also prohibits taking payments in exchange for purchasing, leasing, or ordering any type of good or service if this would be paid for under Medicare. However, the law does specifically carve out some “safe harbors” for specified businesses where such arrangements are not illegal.

The statute makes kickbacks a felony and someone could face up to five years in jail and a possible five-year prison sentence if convicted. Both the party offering the “kickback” and the party receiving the kickback face criminal charges. In addition, someone convicted of the charge may be excluded from participating in federal healthcare programs.

Given the severe penalties under Anti-Kickback law, healthcare professionals and providers should contact a Florida healthcare lawyer to ensure that their relationships are legitimate and do not lead to exposure under the law.

Stark Laws

Federal Stark law is similar to the Anti-Kickback statute as it also governs referrals in the Medicare program.

Stark laws prohibit physician referrals to facilities where the physician has a personal financial interest. Basically, a physician cannot make a referral of a patient to an entity that he owns or has a financial stake as this would give the physician the incentive to make a self-referral even when the referral may not be in the patient’s best interests. Physicians who violate Stark Laws face civil penalties of up to $100,000.

While the Stark laws ban self-referrals, there are a series of exceptions written into the law. Physicians who are unsure if they potentially violate the law can request an advisory opinion from the government and consult with an experienced Florida healthcare lawyer.

Contact Webb Millsap at the Health Law Firm of Florida

Anti-Kickback and Stark laws present serious penalties for healthcare providers who profit off referrals. Healthcare professionals who have a question about these laws should contact a Florida healthcare lawyer who is experienced on handling these matters. Contact Webb Millsaps at the Health Law Firm of Florida at (561) 900-7238 today.