OIG Opinion 09-05, approving a hospital's proposal to compensate physicians for on-call services performed on behalf of the hospital's uninsured patients, may have broad implications for on-call coverage.
The 400-bed nonprofit general hospital is the sole provider of acute care inpatient hospital services in the county.
Under the proposed arrangement, the hospital would pay physicians on a per-encounter basis for the following services provided during on-call periods to indigent patients:
The OIG noted that although there is "substantial risk that improperly structured payments for on-call coverage could be used to disguise unlawful remuneration" under the anti-kickback statute, the proposed arrangement had adequate safeguards.
Those safeguards can provide guidance to physicians, says Todd A. Rodriguez, partner and cochair of the Health Law Practice Group at Fox Rothschild, LLP, in Exton, PA. Among them:
"While the advisory opinion does not contain any surprises, it provides a very useful analysis at a time when on-call compensation arrangements are proliferating. Physicians who have on-call compensation arrangements or who are considering entering into one are well-advised to review their arrangements in light of the OIG's analysis," Rodriguez writes in his Physician Law blog.