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Senate panel once again slams physician-owned distributorships

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The U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee today issued a report slamming physician-owned distributorships that sell the spinal implants their doctor-owners prescribe.

It’s not the 1st time that so-called PODs have drawn scrutiny from federal officials. Back in 2011, a Senate Finance panel report prompted a group of senators to petition the U.S. Health & Human Services Dept.’s inspector general to investigate the businesses and warn that they may create incentives for doctors to give preference to devices that provide them a financial return. The finance committee’s 2011 report found that PODS existed in 20 states, with more than 40 in California alone.

In 2012 the HHS OIG issued a “Special Fraud Alert” labeling PODs as “inherently suspect” under Medicare’s anti-kickback rules. A 2013 OIG report found that the cost of spinal fusion surgeries rises when hospitals purchase medical devices from PODs, finding that 20% of the procedures used devices purchased from the doctor-owned distributors. The Justice Dept. joined the chorus that year, warning that the influence that doctors have over hospitals purchasing practices leaves room for serious conflicts of interest.

 

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Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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