In the recently released OIG Advisory Opinion No. 09-16, the OIG found that participation by chiropractors in a referral network would not run afoul of the federal antikickback statute. In AO 09-16, the OIG reviewed a proposed arrangement whereby chiropractors who are members of an association would each pay $200 per month to participate in a "network" that would advertise chiropractic services through internet, print, radio, or television advertising and provide referrals for such services. A prospective patient who contacts the network for a chiropractor referral would be asked to provide a zip code. The network would then provide contact information for a participating chiropractor who practices in that zip code or, if no participating chiropractor practices in that zip code, in a nearby zip code. If more than one participating chiropractor is in the particular zip code, a name would be provided in sequence from a rotating list. The network would pay the chiropractic association $10 for each chiropractor that participated in the network.
Although the compensation paid by the network to the association would vary with the number of chiropractors who join the network, the OIG stated that it would not prosecute the arrangement because (1) the network itself would not provide any items or services payable by Federal health care programs, (2) the participation fee would not vary on the basis of referrals of Federally payable business, (3) referral of potential patients to participating chiropractors would be on a rotating basis, by geographic area, and (4) the referral service would be open to participation by any chiropractor licensed to practice in the state, and participating chiropractors would receive referrals on an equal basis, would not be influenced by the variation in fees paid by participants.