Arkansas Business article on medical-provider schemes
I presented my bill in committee last week to deter physician kickbacks that result from doctors who refer their patients to medical imaging centers in which the doctors have a financial interest—essentially the doctors buying into this “leasing agreement” are making a great deal of money merely for the referral, and the patient or patient’s private insurer pays for that referral when paying for the imaging. Such actions have been criticized by the American Medical Association as unethical, but some doctors still choose to make extra money on this scheme. Arkansas Business had an article about such schemes, which is at Arkansas Business article on medical-provider schemes http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article.aspx?aID=107306 The plot thickens as to the political realities surrounding this bill, which I must relay. The lobbyist for the men who seek doctors to buy into such schemes set my bill for a Special Order of Business for Feb. 12. A SOB can only be requested by the bill’s sponsor and needs a 3/4 vote of the committee; however, I found out about the SOB date through an e-mail. I tried to pull “stakeholders” together on the bill, but found that I needed to cancel the meeting set by the lobbyist, which I did (I thought). On the 12th, however, the men and their lobbyist came to the Capitol to testify, and I was told to present the bill since a SOB could not be canceled once it was set. At the time, I was about to sit down and present the bill authorizing the new judgeship for the 4th judicial district in the Judiciary Committee room. Rather than cause a stink, I did as instructed and luckily had my file for the self-referral bill upstairs, and I ran up two flights to grab it and got back to the room and presented the bill on the fly. I felt I did a good job, considering, and covered most of the main areas of research; however, because the hearing was canceled for that day, the amendment that I had been working on was not available, so I had to speak to issues until it could be printed and given to the committee members. The amendment was eventually presented to the committee. The imaging center businessman (Sparks, whose lobbyist is someone who just a month earlier was a state legislator and who set the date of the hearing) was present and sat up at the table but did not testify, Dr. Michael Morris of Fayetteville was the main person testifying against the bill, Dr. Anthony Taylor testified against it, and Dr. Lynette Brian testified against the bill, arguing that she hadn’t read the bill, but she was against it. The hearing became very heated when it was revealed that in Fayetteville there are doctors who are refusing to accept Medicaid or Medicaid patients. The federal government prohibits such kickbacks with Medicaid or Medicaid patients, but not with private insurers. Twenty-three states have passed legislation to also limit such practices for patient-pay or private-insurer-pay patients so that patients are paying for medical work, not mandated tips for non-service.