Physicians struggle to make money in the current health care environment. Taking care of patients just does not pay the bills like it used to anymore—and provides a lousy business model. Employed physicians make a salary with limited bonus opportunities. Physician-owned hospitals and health entities are strictly regulated and mostly prohibited. So what’s an entrepreneurial-minded physician to do when approached with a sure-fire way to make money? Find a health care lawyer to help you determine if the offer is legitimate. Payments to physicians made in the context of health care services, no matter what they are called, can in fact be “kickbacks” that violate state and federal laws.
Here is the latest case in Dallas:
The compounding scheme (operating under the name of the “Freedom from Pain Foundation”) involved physicians who were paid through federal funding such as Tricare between $30 and $60 per prescription written for compounded pain/scar/vitamin cream. The criminal indictment focuses on the company’s officers and the compounding pharmacies and physicians involved were not named (or at least not yet). But getting involved in these types of schemes may expose physicians to criminal and civil penalties, as well as problems with licensing boards. The big red flags here: compounding is a new and lucrative field with little regulatory oversight, the indicted officers of the company had no real health care experience or credentials, and the prescribing physicians had no doctor-patient relationship with the patients receiving the prescriptions. This is a lesson you already know as a physician: before you do or invest in anything that sounds too good to be true, consult a trusted health care attorney to make sure that it isn’t. These guys should sure have.