ARKANSAS SUPREME COURT RULES ECONOMIC CREDENTIALING POLICIES COULD VIOLATE FRAUD AND ABUSE RULES IN BAPTIST HEALTH CASE
The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed a state appellate court ruling issuing a temporary injunction prohibiting Baptist Health, enjoining the hospital from enforcing its economic credentialing policies. The basis of this injunction is that the Baptist Health economic credentialing policy, which would prohibit physicians from owning financial interest in competitive facilities from maintaining Medical Staff membership and clinical privileges at Baptist Health, is the following;
A.The physicians proved a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the legal issue at trial that the economic credentialing policies constitute tortious interference with existing patient relationships; and
B.The physicians proved a substantial likelihood of prevailing at trial in establishing that the economic credentialing policies conferred economic benefits, i.e., remuneration, in consideration for referral of patients.
Although this is just a procedural holding, because there has not yet been an actual finding that the economic credentialing policies actually constitute tortious interference or actually violate the Anti-Kickback Statutes, this is a significant ruling in physicians’ battle to stop hospitals from adopting economic credentialing policies. The text of the opinion is available at the Arkansas Supreme Court Web site.