OIG to physicians: Be wary when doing business with other providers

In a new "Eye on Enforcement" video, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) warns physicians to be wary of taking payments from other providers, highlighting a kickback concern the government has targeted over the last several years.

The video discusses a Houston imaging center owner who paid sham medical director fees to physicians in exchange for patient referrals. Government prosecutors settled with the owner for $650,000, but they continued pursuing the 12 physicians who allegedly received kickbacks under the civil money penalties law.

The government saw an increase in civil monetary penalties and program exclusions last year thanks to a new litigation team.

"For a long time, the government has focused on the provider that pays the kickbacks--often times the corporate payer of the kickback--and these cases involved the individual physicians who received kickbacks," Robert K. DeConti, assistant inspector general for legal affairs at the OIG, said in the video. "And that's important for physicians to know that if they are approached by a provider that offers to pay them money in exchange for not doing any work, they should stop and think, is that really a relationship they want to enter into?"

Last year, the OIG released a fraud alert underscoring the agency's renewed interest in physician compensation agreements, particularly payments tied to medical directorships. In the past, the OIG has focused on laboratory payments made to physicians, which led to a $50 million settlement with Health Diagnostics Laboratory last year.

To learn more:
- watch the OIG video

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