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A recent Advisory Opinion (No. 23-15) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that a healthcare consulting company’s plan to offer gift cards to physician practices in exchange for referring potential new customers to the company does not violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS).

The consulting company provides practice optimization and related services, none of which are reimbursable in whole or in part under any federal healthcare program. The company is also not affiliated with any other entity that bills federal programs. For those reasons, the company’s proposals to give current customers $25 gift cards for recommending its consulting services to other physicians, and to provide additional $50 gift cards for successful recommendations, do not violate the AKS.

Under the AKS, knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving any remuneration to induce, or in return for, the referral of federal healthcare program business is illegal. Therefore, a similar arrangement that provided gift cards in exchange for referrals for federally reimbursable items or services would likely be an AKS violation.

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