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The OIG Releases an Advisory Opinion Regarding the Dietitian and Social Worker Services Provided at a Freestanding Radiation Oncology Center

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued Advisory Opinion 10-08 to address the provision of dietitian and social worker services at a freestanding radiation oncology center (Center) at no extra charge to the beneficiaries. The OIG determined that the proposed arrangement would not violate the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute and thus, the OIG would not impose administrative sanctions.

The proposed arrangement involved patients at the Center receiving dietitian and social worker services at no additional charge. The OIG addressed the arrangement as it affected Medicare beneficiaries. The services would not be advertised as “free” or “at no charge.” Patients would receive the dietitian services after being identified for risk of nutritional complications and social worker services would be provided during the patient’s treatment. Under the proposed arrangement, the services would not be separately billed, and the applicable cost sharing amounts for the Medicare beneficiaries would not be routinely waived.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) informed the OIG that the dietitian and social worker services provided at the Center would fall within the reimbursement the Center received for the patients. Thus, the amounts that the Medicare beneficiaries pay to share the costs would be partially attributable to the costs of the dietitian and social worker services and the Center would not be provided the services free because of this reimbursement. If this form of reimbursement had not been factored into the proposed arrangement, then the services would not be part of the reimbursement and could implicate the Anti-Kickbac Statute.

If you would like any of your financial arrangements analyzed for risk of Stark or Anti-Kickback Statute violations please contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.