HHS' inspector general's office was expected to post five new, virtually identical advisory opinions giving green lights to gainsharing arrangements between three hospitals and their cardiology groups.
The agency issued three opinions Feb. 10 to consulting firm Goodroe Healthcare Solutions, Norcross, Ga., and its hospital clients, said Joane Goodroe, the firm's president and chief executive officer. Goodroe said she expected two more favorable opinions to be issued today. At deadline, the advisories were not available online.
A similarly favorable opinion was issued to Goodroe and a hospital client Jan. 28 and posted Feb. 4. In all, the rulings cover six programs at four hospitals. Two of the hospitals were PinnacleHealth System's Harrisburg (Pa.) Hospital and Sisters of Charity Providence Hospital, Columbia, S.C., Goodroe said. She did not disclose the identities of the other two hospitals.
Under the arrangements, the hospitals would share with the cardiology groups a percentage of cost savings arising primarily from using specific supplies during designated cardiac surgery and catheterization procedures. Goodroe said the arrangements would reduce costs between $600,000 and $4 million annually for each hospital, with physicians reaping up to half of the savings.
In each case, the inspector general's office said the proposed arrangement would constitute an improper payment to physicians under federal antikickback law, but the office said it would not impose sanctions because of the safeguards in place -- such as the "transparency" of the arrangement and "credible" medical support.
"All the opinions we secured show that this is a replicable process for more than one hospital," Goodroe said.