Yet another urine problem in Florida

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Did you know that gallons of urine are collected at pain management clinics every day in Florida to make sure that patients are taking only medicines prescribed to them and not selling or abusing other pain medications. As originally reported by Health News Florida last year:

(1) The business has become so profitable for clinical laboratory companies that some have been paying physician groups to let them install a “collector” to handle the business. (2)The lab pays the medical practice “rent” for a certain number of square feet within their office; (3) sometimes it subsidize the cost for a receptionist.

Basically, you give us pee, we give you free labor, pay rent, and sometimes include free unrelated clerical or receptionist duties. All of this is illegal (FL Admin Rule 59A-7.020(14)).

AHCA hasn’t been able to stop it with cease and desist letters, clarifications, or kicking it over to other state government entities.

One laboratory, Ameritox, paid the federal government $16.3 million in 2010 to resolve kickback claims associated with laboratory testing services, and is currently under an HHS Corporate Integrity Agreement, and received two “Cease and Desist” letters from AHCA in 2011 for improperly placing specimen collectors in physician offices.

Another one of the main offenders is Aegis Sciences Corporation, owned by the husband of freshman congresswoman Diane Black (R – TN), who ironically sits on the subcommittee that oversees medicaid and medicare, and related federal kickback laws.

But there is a solution and it can be found in HB 1419 / SB 1884. Two main excerpts from the House version which passed last week:

A clinical laboratory is prohibited from providing, directly or indirectly, through employees, contractors, an independent staffing company, lease agreement, or otherwise, personnel to perform any functions or duties in a physician’s office, or any part of a physician’s office, for any purpose whatsoever, including for the collection of handling of specimens, unless the laboratory and the physician’s office are wholly owned and operated by the same entity. Aclinical laboratory is prohibited from leasing space within any part of a physician’s office for any purpose, including for the purpose of establishing a collection station. The agency shall promptly investigate all complaints of noncompliance with subsection (1). The agency shall impose a fine of $5,000 for each separate violation of subsection (1).In addition, the agency shall deny an application for a license or license renewal if the applicant, or any other entity with one or more common controlling interests in the applicant, demonstrates a pattern of violating subsection (1). A pattern may bedemonstrated by a showing of at least two such violations.

Tuesday HB 1419 will be up for a full vote in the House & SB 1884 will be up in the Senate HHS Appropriations subcommittee.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.