of the US Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) that included a new safe harbor under the federal anti-kickback statute pertaining to free local transportation of patients. That rule went into effect in January 2017. “It outlines specific rules and crite- ria about who is eligible to receive free transportation and who an ASC is per- mitted to transport,” Kempton-Serra says. “Before this final rule, OIG opin- ions placed restrictive limits concern- ing patient transportation that made providing free transportation legally much more difficult.”

Set Up a Compliant Patient Transportation Service

Stay within a new safe harbor and avoid federal anti-kickback violations BY ROBERT KURTZ


ri-State Centers for Sight Sur- gery Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, relies on a transportation service to bring many of its patients to and from the ASC. About 20 percent use the service, says Deborah Bray, RN, the ASC’s director. The service is pivotal to the center’s ability to provide sur- gical care for its patient population because the Ohio River runs between Cincinnati and Kentucky and some of the affiliated practices of the ASC are in Northern Kentucky.

“The traffic is horrible between Ohio and Northern Kentucky,” Bray says. “The patients hate driving across the river because of the traffic. Further com- plicating matters is that since we are an ophthalmology ASC, a lot of our patients are older and have vision problems. Many of them lack family or friends who can transport them to the center. Our ser-

vice helps our patients safely receive the care they need and deserve.” Dutchess Ambulatory Surgical Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, launched its transportation service for a similar reason, says Kathleen Hickman, RN, CASC, the ASC’s administrator and clinical director. “We had new part- ners who introduced the idea of offer- ing transportation to patients who are unable to secure transportation to our center, particularly those patients who live across a river in our community.” Attorney Kimberly Kempton- Serra, a partner with Garfunkel Wild who practices out of the firm’s Hack- ensack, New Jersey, office, says she has witnessed an increasing number of ASCs offering transportation services over the past few years. The impetus, she says, was the adoption of a final rule by the Office of Inspector General


Key Components Tri-State Centers for Sight Surgery Center works closely with its legal counsel and insurance provider to keep its “courtesy van service” compliant, Bray says. The ASC owns three vans and contracts with five, part-time driv- ers who rotate driving responsibilities. The process for arranging the service begins in a surgeon’s office. “When patients see their ophthal-

mologist and make an appointment for their surgery with us, the office sched- ulers ask patients if they require trans- portation assistance,” Bray says. “If so, the schedulers view a spreadsheet main- tained by our ASC that details transpor- tation availability. The office schedulers then call our ASC to submit a formal request for patient transportation.” Transportation assignments are pro-

vided to drivers one week in advance of the surgery day. “Each driver calls the patients they are scheduled to pick up, usually the night before surgery,” Bray says. “This call provides the drivers with an opportunity to introduce them- selves and inform patients of the time they should be ready for transportation. The drivers also use these calls to ver- ify with patients that they still need the ride and confirm the address and phone number on record is correct.” The ASC maintains a detailed log of all transportation scheduled and pro- vided, Bray says. To be compliant “you

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