Georgia Enacts New AKS Statute Aimed at Substance Abuse Referrals

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On July 1, 2021, a new Georgia anti-kickback statute (AKS), Senate Bill 4 (SB4), became effective. SB4 prohibits providers of substance abuse treatment from engaging in patient brokering, and specifically makes it unlawful for any person, including a substance abuse provider, to:

  1. Pay or offer to pay any remuneration to induce the referral of a patient or patronage to or from a substance abuse provider.
  2. Solicit or receive any remuneration in return for the referral of a patient or patronage to or from a substance abuse provider.
  3. Solicit or receive any remuneration in return for the acceptance or acknowledgement of treatment from a substance abuse provider.
  4. Aid, abet, advise or otherwise participate in the conduct prohibited by (i) – (iii) above.

SB4 applies to both public and private payors and includes a number of exceptions, including:

  1. Arrangements that do not violate the federal AKS.
  2. Payments made within a group practice, provided that such payments are between members of the group practice.
  3. Payments to a healthcare provider in exchange for professional services.

With the enactment of SB4, Georgia is now one of many states to take aim at curbing patient brokering as it relates to substance abuse treatment. Notably, however, Georgia substance abuse providers are already required to comply with the federal Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018 (EKRA), which similarly prohibits soliciting or receiving remuneration in return for referrals to a recovery home, clinical treatment facility or laboratory. Given the similarities between EKRA and SB4, SB4 may have little practical significance for Georgia providers; however, providers should implement safeguards to ensure they do not receive remuneration in exchange for referrals in violation of EKRA or SB4.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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