Co-Management has long been a topic of controversy. Some ophthalmologists view it as a legitimate practice that respects patient choice by allowing patients to return to their primary vision care physician, for post-operative care. Others, however, allege that it is a veiled form of kickback between the surgeon and the referring co-manager. Guidance from CMS and the OIG has acknowledged that while co-management is a legitimate practice, there may be opportunity for abuse, and whether a particular arrangement is compliant will be based on the facts presented. Unfortunately, until now we have had no definitive guidance on what facts reflect a complaint practice and what facts raise concern.
Recently, however, there has been a dramatic increase in activity where co-management practices have been challenged as non-compliant. There are several on-going investigations of large co-management practices, where the government has demanded the production of documents and employees have been questioned. These investigations seem to focus on determining whether co-management programs and the collateral benefits provided to optometrists constitute a violation of the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute.
AECOS’s counsel, Allison Shuren of Arnold & Porter, and consultant Alan Reider of LSR Consulting, have developed a webinar designed to provide compliance guidance to ophthalmology and optometry practices relating to co-management and collateral practices. In the Webinar, they will:
- Discuss the areas of concern being raised through these investigations
- Discuss the elements of co-management practice that are most likely subject to scrutiny
- Identify best practices in co-management to reduce the risk of allegations of non-compliance.
In light of the significant risk and related costs incurred if your practices are challenged, practices are wise to take steps now to mitigate any risk in this area.