In the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Advisory Opinion 11-02, the OIG examined a proposed arrangement in which the Requestor–a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation that operates an outpatient acute care hospital–would provide complimentary transportation services to patients and their families at physicians’ offices located on, or contiguous to, the Requestor’s campus (Physicians) to the Requestor’s acute care facility for further evaluation and treatment (Proposed Arrangement). The Physicians are on Requestor’s medical staff. If a Physician determines that a patient is in immediate need of treatment at one of Requestor’s facilities, the patient is unable to walk and there are no available appropriate private transportation options, then the Physician’s office may contact the Requestor to pick up and transport the patient to one of the Requestor’s facilities. Even though the value of the transportation could exceed $10 per transport or $50 on an annual basis, the OIG determined the Proposed Arrangement would not subject the Requestor to sanctions for “a combination of the following reasons”:
• Federal healthcare program beneficiaries would not be selectively limited. Moreover, patient eligibility for the transportation services would be uniformly determined by the Physicians according to Requestor’s written policy setting forth the operational requirements of the Proposed Arrangement.
• The type of transportation–a van owned by the Requestor and driven by an EMT employed by the Requestor–would be reasonable.
• The transportation services would only be offered locally from Physicians’ offices located on or contiguous to the Requestor’s 108-acre campus and patients would only be transported ¼ of a mile.
• The Proposed Arrangement would not be advertised.
• There is limited access and availability of local public transportation and parking.
• The cost of the transportation would not be claimed, directly or indirectly, on any Federal healthcare program cost report or claim, nor otherwise shifted to a Federal healthcare program.
This opinion is, yet another, OIG favorable opinion pertaining complementary transportation services. Roughly 2 years ago, in March 2009, in Advisory Opinion 09-01, the OIG permitted a proposed arrangement in which skilled nursing facility would provide complimentary transportation services to for friends, residents and their families, subject to certain safeguards.
For more information, please contact Adrienne Dresevic, Esq. or Carey F. Kalmowitz, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or (212) 734-0128 or Daniel B. Brown, Esq. at (770) 804-6475 or visit our Stark and Anti-Kickback specialty page on the HLP website.