Patients for Sale
I sound like a broken record reporting on fraudulent activity so often these days. It really is not what I want the focus of this blog to be. Normally I would not report on a fraud conviction related to a partial hospital program, sleep clinic, etc. but I think we all need to pay attention to why these people are going to jail. From the HHS press release:
According to court documents, ATC’s principals paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities and halfway houses and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible patients to ATC and ASI. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks.
What this means to you is that if you or your agency enter into any agreement where cash or goods are provided on a per referral basis, you may find yourself in jail. My recommendation is that any arrangement where someone is paid a bonus for referrals be reviewed by a healthcare attorney. If you choose to ignore my advice, please at least consider the following advice.
- When selling patients, charge a lot more than $50.00. There are hidden costs in this line of work including legal fees and bail money. Do NOT accept checks or credit card payments when selling patients.
- When buying patients, at least give them a token amount of health care. I am petitioning God for a special kind of hell for those that bill on our most vulnerable members of society and don’t even give them much needed health care.
- If your generosity to patients includes flat screen televisions, cash, WalMart cards or rides to the physician’s office, have the patients sign a confidentiality agreement first.
- If you pay an outrageous amount of money for rent to another facility so you have access to their patients, make all payments in unmarked bills.
- If you market directly to patients, wear a disguise, drive an grey sedan and use a fake name. Do your marketing before 8:00 am and after 5:00 pm. The feds keep a pretty predictable schedule and you will be less likely to draw attention.
Of course, the best way to market is to provide impeccable care and become known as the agency who keeps patients out of the hospital and goes further than other agencies to attend to patient needs. It has come to my attention that some agencies are unwilling to go that route. If you are one of them, heed my advice. You will still be caught but you may have a little bit of cash stashed away for legal fees.