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Kickbacks

Federal Law

Under federal law, no person may knowingly and willingly offer to pay or pay any person for: (a) referring patients for items or services reimbursable under a health care program; or (b) purchasing, leasing, or arranging for any good, facility, service or item reimbursable under a health care program. To do any of the above, is known as providing or receiving a kickback and is punishable under federal law. If you or someone you know has been charged with a federal kickback crime in Orange County, it is important that you contact an Orange County criminal defense lawyer immediately so that they can assess your case and provide next steps.

California Anti-Kickback Regulations

In the past few years, there has been an increase in the investigation and enforcement of anti-kickback statues. Some states, including California have enacted regulations similar to the federal anti-kickback statutes.

In California, anti-kickback regulation is covered by Business and Professions Code section 650, which provides:

(a) ... the offer, delivery, receipt, or acceptance by any person licensed under this division or the Chiropractic Initiative Act of any rebate, refund, commission, preference, patronage dividend, discount, or other consideration, whether in the form of money or otherwise, as compensation or inducement for referring patients, clients, or customers to any person, irrespective of any membership, proprietary interest, or coownership in or with any person to whom these patients, clients, or customers are referred is unlawful.

Examples of illegal kickbacks include:

  • Paying cash or benefits to a person to encourage referrals or to encourage the purchasing of goods/services
  • Fee splitting arrangements (i.e. paying a management company an excessive part of the service fee that is paid to the physician)
  • Providing a doctor with considerably low-priced office space or equipment
  • Excessive payments to a physician by a pharmaceutical company for research, speaker fees, or consulting fees
  • Providing free training for a physician’s staff beyond what is necessary

If you have been accused of violating anti-kick back regulations in California, it is essential that you contact an experienced attorney in Orange County to assist you with your case.

Penalties

Retaining an experienced defense attorney is crucial if you or someone you know is facing either federal or state charges for a violation of anti-kickback laws. The penalties for a violation of anti-kickback statues apply both to individuals (physicians, employees, hospital management, officers of corporations, etc.) and entities (hospitals, corporations, etc.). A federal violation of the anti-kickback statute is charged as a felony and the person charged can face up to five years in prison. In California, if person is found guilty of violating the state anti-kickback law, it is charged as a misdemeanor and the person can face up to six months in prison. There are also civil fines that a person may face if charged with violating anti-kickback statues (up to $2,500 for violating California state law and up to $25,000 for violating federal law). Even if the investigation and charges do not lead to incarceration, the unfavorable publicity from the investigation can be harmful to a physician’s reputation or practice.

Orange County defense attorney William Weinberg is an experienced lawyer in Orange County who has many years of experience defending clients charged in white collar crime cases. He will consider your case free of charge and advise you of your options. To reach him please contact his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at bill@williamweinberg.com.

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