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OIG Opines on Funding for Continuing Education Programs

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently published Advisory Opinion 22-14 , in which it analyzed an ophthalmology practice’s proposal to offer continuing education (CE) programs for local optometrists (“Proposed Arrangement”) within the context of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”). In providing a partially favorable opinion as detailed below, the OIG shed further light on the concepts of free or reduced-cost goods or services and “substantial independent value” under the AKS. OIG’s Opinion

Under the Proposed Arrangement, an ophthalmology practice (Requestor) would offer CE programs to local optometrists that would address new technology and pharmacological practice treatment protocols related to ophthalmic surgeries. The Requestor sought an advisory opinion on the Proposed Arrangement, with four potential methods of financing the CE programs:

> Under Arrangement A, the Requestor would charge all attendees a registration fee that is consistent with fair market value for such CE programs. The collection of such registration fees would comport to the estimated overall cost of the CE program such that any revenue shortfall or overage would not be substantial. The Requestor would cover any revenue shortfalls while donating any excess revenue to a local charity.

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