The OIG recently issued an interesting advisory opinion related to a hospital based hospice agency’s intent to establish a volunteer program to provide non-skilled services to terminally ill patients who do not qualify for hospice care.
OIG Advisory Opinion No. 12-17
The OIG recently issued an interesting advisory opinion related to a hospital based hospice agency’s intent to establish a volunteer program to provide non-skilled services to terminally ill patients who do not qualify for hospice care. Under the proposed program, the hospice would offer a community services program to provide non-skilled services at no charge to terminally ill patients who have one year or less to live if the illness runs its normal course, but who do not qualify for hospice services either because they are projected to have more than six months to live or because they do not wish to renounce curative treatment.
The services would be provided by unpaid volunteers and would include activities such as companionship, visitation, transportation in the volunteers personal automobiles, running errands and respite for caregivers.
The OIG stated that while there was some risk the program could potentially generate prohibited remuneration under the anti-kickback statute if the requisite intent to induce or reward referrals were present, the program as described would not be a violation of the anti-kickback statute. The OIG based its opinion largely on the fact that the agency was not going to market the program in the community, rather it would explain the purpose of the program and eligibility criteria to local hospital case managers and others on request. In addition, the costs associated with the program would be maintained separately from the hospice program and the hospital’s expenses and would not be passed on to Federal health care programs (the hospital foundation was to fund the costs of the program for the first year).
Read the full text of the OIG opinion here: https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/docs/advisoryopinions/2012/AdvOpn12-17.pdf