Patient brokers spell big trouble

Sunday, July 31, 2005

AMARILLO, Texas -- Over the past six months the number of illegal "patient brokers" -- former PT, respiratory therapists and other professionals with deep referral source relationships -- has been on the rise, said Jeff Baird, a healthcare attorney with Brown & Fortunato in Amarillo, Texas. "I have had a number of large HME companies come to me and say they've been approached by an independent broker or marketing rep who can move a lot of patients to them," said Baird. "It's so blatantly wrong I have to laugh." To pay an independent contractor for patients clearly violates the federal anti-kickback statute. "I find myself saying don't go there, and they are frustrated because the competition is doing it, but that is not a defense," Baird said.