(a) Prohibition on referrals. Except as provided in this subpart, a physician who has a direct or indirect financial relationship with an entity, or who has an immediate family member who has a direct or indirect financial relationship with the entity, may not make a referral to that entity for the furnishing of DHS for which payment otherwise may be made under Medicare. A physician's prohibited financial relationship with an entity that furnishes DHS is not imputed to his or her group practice or its members or its staff. However, a referral made by a physician's group practice, its members, or its staff may be imputed to the physician if the physician directs the group practice, its members, or its staff to make the referral or if the physician controls referrals made by his or her group practice, its members, or its staff.
(b) Limitations on billing. An entity that furnishes DHS pursuant to a referral that is prohibited by paragraph (a) of this section may not present or cause to be presented a claim or bill to the Medicare program or to any individual, third party payer, or other entity for the DHS performed pursuant to the prohibited referral.
(c) Denial of payment for services furnished under a prohibited referral.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, no Medicare payment may be made for a designated health service that is furnished pursuant to a prohibited referral.
(2) When payment for a designated health service is denied on the basis that the service was furnished pursuant to a prohibited referral, and such payment denial is appealed -
(i) The ultimate burden of proof (burden of persuasion) at each level of appeal is on the entity submitting the claim for payment to establish that the service was not furnished pursuant to a prohibited referral (and not on CMS or its contractors to establish that the service was furnished pursuant to a prohibited referral); and
(ii) The burden of production on each issue at each level of appeal is initially on the claimant, but may shift to CMS or its contractors during the course of the appellate proceeding, depending on the evidence presented by the claimant.
(d) Refunds. An entity that collects payment for a designated health service that was performed pursuant to a prohibited referral must refund all collected amounts on a timely basis, as defined at § 1003.101 of this title.
(e) Exception for certain entities. Payment may be made to an entity that submits a claim for a designated health service if -
(1) The entity did not have actual knowledge of, and did not act in reckless disregard or deliberate ignorance of, the identity of the physician who made the referral of the designated health service to the entity; and
(2) The claim otherwise complies with all applicable Federal and State laws, rules, and regulations.
(f) Exception for certain arrangements involving temporary noncompliance.
(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (f)(2) through (4) of this section, an entity may submit a claim or bill and payment may be made to an entity that submits a claim or bill for a designated health service if -
(i) The financial relationship between the entity and the referring physician fully complied with an applicable exception under § 411.355, 411.356, or 411.357 for at least 180 consecutive calendar days immediately preceding the date on which the financial relationship became noncompliant with the exception; and
(ii) The financial relationship has fallen out of compliance with the exception for reasons beyond the control of the entity, and the entity promptly takes steps to rectify the noncompliance.
(2) Paragraph (f)(1) of this section applies only to DHS furnished during the period of time it takes the entity to rectify the noncompliance, which must not exceed 90 consecutive calendar days following the date on which the financial relationship became noncompliant with an exception.
(3) Paragraph (f)(1) may be used by an entity only once every 3 years with respect to the same referring physician.
(h) Special rule for reconciling compensation. An entity may submit a claim or bill and payment may be made to an entity that submits a claim or bill for a designated health service if -
(1) No later than 90 consecutive calendar days following the expiration or termination of a compensation arrangement, the entity and the physician (or immediate family member of a physician) that are parties to the compensation arrangement reconcile all discrepancies in payments under the arrangement such that, following the reconciliation, the entire amount of remuneration for items or services has been paid as required under the terms and conditions of the arrangement; and
(2) Except for the discrepancies in payments described in paragraph (h)(1) of this section, the compensation arrangement fully complies with an applicable exception in this subpart.
[85 FR 77656, Dec. 2, 2020]