AMARILLO, Texas – When it comes to giving gifts to referral sources and other business partners, HME suppliers need to be concerned with three federal statutes: the Medicare anti-kickback statute, the Stark Law, and the beneficiary inducement statute.
4 The anti-kickback statute is criminal. It applies to payments to doctors, nurses, beneficiaries, taxi cab drivers and potted plants.
This statute does not have a dollar amount exception.
4 Stark is civil. It only applies to doctors. Under Stark, in 2009 a supplier can spend up to $355 annually on gifts/perks for a doctor. This must be for non-cash items (like meals).
4 The beneficiary inducement statute is civil. There is a “nominal value” exception to this statute: a DME company can give a gift to a beneficiary so long as the gift has a retail value that is less than or equal to $10. If a DME company gives multiple gifts to a beneficiary over a 12-month period, the aggregate retail value of the gifts cannot exceed $50.
From a practical standpoint, if an arrangement falls within an exception to Stark and/or the inducement statute, the Department of Justice will not seek to prosecute the arrangement under the anti-kickback statute. hme
Jeff Baird is a healthcare attorney with Brown & Fortunato in Amarillo, Texas.