HHS, IRS rules on EMR donations clash

In some cases, giving a physician practice software, hardware and IT support may be the only way to get them on board with hospital EMR efforts. But despite new HHS rules allowing the giveaways, non-profits may not be able to do so. In August, the HHS Office of the Inspector General issued guidelines specifically exempting such donations from anti-kickback and Stark law rules. But then the IRS got into the act. While the IRS hasn't taken an official position on technology donations to physician practices, they're raised a warning flag suggesting that such donations may be prohibited under rules for non-profit status. Under IRS rules, non-profit hospitals may not make donations that don't benefit the public. The issue, which is still being reviewed by the IRS, is whether such donations create private or public benefit. To cover themselves, non-profit hospitals may be forced to seek what is known as a "private letter" ruling, which spells out the IRS's position on their particular situation.

For more information on this issue:
- read this iHealthbeat.com item
read this American Medical News article (sub. req.)