Christmas Gifts and Scrouge

December 4, ’14

Small health care providers should be careful being nice to their patients and clients this time of the year! Whether you run a home health care agency, a durable medical equipment company, an ambulance company,  a small pharmacy or have a small medical practice, whatever you do, don’t give a Christmas present to your Medicare/Medicaid patients!!! Scrouge, I mean the U.S. Department of Justice, just might come after you under the False Claims Act for hefty penalties and fines.

The Department of Justice has reported that Rite Aid has agreed to pay $2.99 million for giving gift cards to  Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries. According to the government, these gift cards constituted an  “improper inducement” to the beneficiaries to give Rite Aid their prescription drug business.  I guess the government thinks our seniors can be bought off on the cheap.

So, if you bill Medicare or Medicaid, play it safe and be a Scrouge this year and don’t give your patients/clients a Christmas present. You don’t want the government to claim that your Christmas stocking “improperly induced” the patient to remain under your care.