hands of colleagues at laptop computer with charts

An attorney advised home care and home health agencies to beef up compliance training for their marketing teams during a webinar Tuesday sponsored by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.

Rachel Hold-Weiss from the law firm Arent Fox said marketing representatives require different training than most home care staff because they come into direct contact with numerous referral providers and could be at risk of violating federal kickback regulations.

“If you have a doctor who all of a sudden is referring 30% of your patients in a two-week time period, what happened?” Hold-Weiss asked during the webinar, suggesting this change could raise a red flag. “It could be legitimate. It doesn’t necessarily have to be nefarious, but what changed? What is going on?”

Last year, U.S. attorneys offices in 31 districts began cracking down on healthcare fraud throughout the country which resulted in the arrests of nearly 140 people and millions of dollars in fines. Some of those fines related to healthcare providers receiving money in exchange for referring patients to home care, home health and hospice agencies. In one case, an office manager in a Florida doctor’s office was involved in a scheme to illegally refer Medicare patients to home healthcare firms in exchange for thousands of dollars in kickbacks. 

Marketing staff can legally provide small gifts to a single provider or patient that don’t exceed $15 or $75 in total over the course of a year. Hold-Weiss also advised home care and home health agencies to cap compensation to marketing staff because unlimited commissions could potentially invite trouble.

“If you have one outlier in marketing, then either that is one of the best marketers that has come around in years or that marketer is doing something improper,” Hold-Weiss said.