Magazine article Drug Topics

OIG Issues Warning: Beware of Gifts to Patients

Magazine article Drug Topics

OIG Issues Warning: Beware of Gifts to Patients

Article excerpt

Pharmacies that offer freebies to Medicare or Medicaid patients better watch out. The practice could get you in trouble with the feds.

The Office of Inspector General

issued a special advisory bulletin in late August, warning against the offer of gifts to beneficiaries. OIG explained that remunerating patients so they would select a certain provider could raise healthcare costs or result in lower-quality services. Remuneration could involve waivers of co-pay or the offer of items or services for free or for other than fair market value. Exceptions are inexpensive gifts or services, which are allowed if their retail value does not exceed $10 individually and $50 annually per patient. OIG gave notice that those who violate these constraints might be liable for civil penalties of up to $10,000.

Asked to comment, Daniel Ernsberger, an attorney with Behrend & Emsberger, PC., Pittsburgh, said the feds have always been leery of practices steering patients to certain providers. …

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