OIG Opinion Approves Free Pre-Authorization Arrangement
On May 6, 2010 the Office of Inspector General (the “OIG”) posted Advisory Opinion 10-04, which approved a program conducted by several imaging centers to provide free pre-authorization services to patients and referring physicians (the “Pre-Authorization Arrangement”). This approval was somewhat unexpected in light of the OIG’s prior issuance of several advisory opinions and other guidance articulating concerns involving the provision of free items or services to referring physicians. Nonetheless, the OIG’s position in Advisory Opinion 10-04 is likely to be favorably received by the significant number of imaging providers who have been trying to bridge the tension between advancing their business prospects in an increasingly more competitive landscape, while simultaneously seeking to engage in conduct that could be viewed as impermissible under the Anti-kickback Statute (the “AKS”).
A full analysis of the implications will be forthcoming in the June issue of “Regulatory Review,” the monthly column in AHRA Link authored by Adrienne Dresevic, Esq. and Carey F. Kalmowitz, Esq.