The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018, or EKRA Law, was enacted by Congress as a part of the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act, also known as the Support Act.
The EKRA law makes up Section 1822 of the Support Act. It was designed to put a stop to the practice of accepting kickbacks for referring patients for treatment to inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment, and/or sober houses or recovery homes.
While EKRA targeted the addiction recovery industry, it is applicable across healthcare industries regardless of specialty. It further bolstered already existing laws prohibiting healthcare professionals from getting kickbacks for referring patients to government-funded or private healthcare options.
The price for violating this law and getting caught is steep. Currently, the penalty may include up to $200,000 in fines, up to 10 years in prison, or a combination of both.
EKRA Law: What Is It?
EKRA regulations provide for the protection of patients. It is no longer legally possible for a medical doctor to prescribe OxyContin to a patient and then make money for referring that patient to treatment when they developed an addiction within a year of regular use.
In Florida, this was an especially important law. By 2017, the opioid epidemic had reached such a crisis that then-Governor Scott declared a statewide public health emergency as a result. He addressed the fact that Floridians were suffering and that, in many cases, people with addictions were coming from out of state to take advantage of easy access to opioid painkillers through what were often called “pill mills.”
It was rarely this straightforward of a process and may not have always had malicious intent behind it when it did occur. Still, EKRA put a halt to the practice of giving remuneration of any kind in exchange for a referral for a new patient, not just in the addiction treatment world, but also among dentists, clinical labs, primary care physicians, and medical specialists of all kinds.
Is the EKRA Lab Law Different From the EKRA Law?
No, but the term EKRA lab law often specifically points to the impact of the EKRA law on clinical laboratories. The law defines “laboratory” as any facility that provides “biological, microbiological, serological, chemical, immuno-hematological, hematological, biophysical, cytological, pathological, or other examination of materials derived from the human body.”
This means, for example, that if any lab that is providing copious blood tests, urine tests, or tests of any kind to a healthcare facility in which it may be deemed as fraudulent for the purposes of billing insurance, or any facility engaged in this behavior, they can be charged under the EKRA Lab Law.
How to Maintain EKRA Compliance
Maintaining EKRA compliance is relatively straightforward. Florida Healthcare Law Firm can help to ensure that your organization, clinic, or lab is staying well within bounds. Contact us today for a consultation.