OIG says physician-landlords should review rental agreements
Physicians who rent office space to health care suppliers and other Medicare providers must make sure that the rental amounts reflect fair-market value for the space, according to a Feb. 23 special fraud alert issued by the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG).
The OIG is concerned that physician-landlords may be receiving excessive rental payments from suppliers in exchange for referrals from those physicians. According to the OIG, such a practice would violate the federal antikickback laws. Violations of the law are punishable by up to five years in prison, criminal fines up to $25,000, administrative civil money penalties up to $50,000, and exclusion from participation in federal health care programs.
The OIG is examining three areas in relation to rental agreements between physicians and other providers:
Appropriateness of rental agreements. Payments of rent for space that traditionally has been provided for free or for a nominal charge for the benefit of the physicians' patients—such as consignment closets for durable-medical equipment—may represent a type of kickback, according to the OIG.
Rental amounts. Rental amounts should reflect fair-market value, be fixed in advance and not take into account either directly or indirectly the volume or value of referrals or other business generated between the parties. Such amounts also should not exceed the amount paid for comparable property, according to the OIG.
Time and space considerations. Suppliers should rent only premises that are reasonable and necessary for a commercially reasonable business purpose.
For more information about physician office space rental arrangements, see the OIG Web site at www.hhs.gov/oig/frdalrt/index.htm.
Internist Archives Quick Links
MKSAP 16® Holiday Special: Save 10%
Use MKSAP 16 to earn MOC points, prepare for ABIM exams and assess your clinical knowledge. For a limited time save 10% when you use priority code MKPROMO! Order now.
Maintenance of Certification:
What if I Still Don't Know Where to Start?
Because the rules are complex and may apply differently depending on when you last certified, ACP has developed a MOC Navigator. This FREE tool can help you understand the impact of MOC, review requirements, guide you in selecting ways to meet the requirements, show you how to enroll, and more. Start navigating now.