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How investments or recruiters expose doctors to fraud charges

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Health Care Crimes |

Physicians in Florida may receive offers to invest in healthcare businesses related to their practices. Other opportunities take the form of recruitment offers from hospitals. Hospitals can provide incentives to motivate doctors to work at or associate with their facilities. Physicians may legally benefit from healthcare business investments or recruitment incentives under certain circumstances. However, fierce competition for medical patients can cause companies to violate the Stark Law or Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). As a physician, you should vet offers carefully to avoid accusations of wrongdoing.

Signs of a risky investment

Operators of healthcare businesses related to your practice, such as a laboratory or physical therapy office, could approach you with an attractive business deal. They ask you to invest and gain partial ownership as a way to convince you to send more patients their way. Such an arrangement, whether explicit or implicit, could leave you exposed to allegations of healthcare fraud.

Warning signs of potential legal issues:

  • Promises of abnormally high returns
  • Expectation of more patient referrals
  • Loan offered to invest

The laws governing physician investments seek to prevent physicians from referring patients simply to satisfy a business deal. The terms of an business arrangement could motivate a physician to refer patients for financial reasons instead of medical necessity.

Recruitment incentives

Hospitals in rural or underserved areas have legitimate reasons to offer incentives to physicians to move to the area and join the hospital system. However, hospitals in competitive markets may engage in recruitment practices that cross legal lines.

A hospital cannot pay you directly to take a position. The hospital system may only offer a fair market salary and financial assistance with relocation. Offering to subsidize your rent on a medical office outside of the parameters of the Stark Law or AKS puts you at legal risk.