I found an old lock in the garage. Now, what’s the combination?
When we talk about joint ventures in healthcare, we tend to think of illegality, as in “suspect joint venture,” the pejorative term crafted by the OIG (that is, by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency charged with enforcing the federal Anti-Kickback Statute) to indicate an arrangement that should be carefully scrutinized because it’s likely an illegal kickback in disguise.
But that’s the case only when there’s remuneration, overt or (more likely) covert, within the structure or the operation of the joint venture. That is, there’s a benefit, or an opportunity to gain a benefit, conferred on the party in a position to refer patients.
But there are many other instances in which healthcare providers can create joint ventures quite legally, even arrangements between those in a position to refer and those in a position to receive referrals.
In many instances, it’s these combinations that will allow physician groups to remain independent of hospital control.
And, it’s also a way for groups or other entities to partner without a complete merger, a way to remain independent and in control of your destiny.
The key is to tread carefully and to engage in compliance focused planning as a part of your larger joint venture strategy, not as an “add on” performed after your deal is, or so you thought, designed.