(a) Notwithstanding any other law, to the extent those services are paid pursuant to Division 4 (commencing with Section 3200), it is unlawful for a physician to refer a person for clinical laboratory, diagnostic nuclear medicine, radiation oncology, physical therapy, physical rehabilitation, psychometric testing, home infusion therapy, outpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging goods or services, or pharmacy goods, whether for treatment or medical-legal purposes, if the physician or his or her immediate family has a financial interest with the person or in the entity that receives the referral.
(b) For purposes of this section and Section 139.31, the following shall apply:
Terms Used In California Labor Code 139.3
- Agency: means the Labor and Workforce Development Agency. See California Labor Code 18.5
- Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
- Corporation: A legal entity owned by the holders of shares of stock that have been issued, and that can own, receive, and transfer property, and carry on business in its own name.
- Division: means the Division of Workers' Compensation. See California Labor Code 110
- Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
- Lease: A contract transferring the use of property or occupancy of land, space, structures, or equipment in consideration of a payment (e.g., rent). Source: OCC
- Lien: A claim against real or personal property in satisfaction of a debt.
- Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
- Partnership: A voluntary contract between two or more persons to pool some or all of their assets into a business, with the agreement that there will be a proportional sharing of profits and losses.
- Person: means any person, association, organization, partnership, business trust, limited liability company, or corporation. See California Labor Code 18
- Spouse: includes "registered domestic partner" as required by Section 297. See California Labor Code 12.2
- Violation: includes a failure to comply with any requirement of the code. See California Labor Code 22
(1) “Diagnostic imaging” includes, but is not limited to, all X-ray, computed axial tomography magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography, mammography, and ultrasound goods and services.
(2) “Immediate family” includes the spouse and children of the physician, the parents of the physician, and the spouses of the children of the physician.
(3) “Physician” means a physician as defined in Section 3209.3.
(4) A “financial interest” includes, but is not limited to, any type of ownership, interest, debt, loan, lease, compensation, remuneration, discount, rebate, refund, dividend, distribution, subsidy, or other form of direct or indirect payment, whether in money or otherwise, between a licensee and a person or entity to whom the physician refers a person for a good or service specified in subdivision (a). A financial interest also exists if there is an indirect relationship between a physician and the referral recipient, including, but not limited to, an arrangement whereby a physician has an ownership interest in any entity that leases property to the referral recipient. Any financial interest transferred by a physician to, or otherwise established in, any person or entity for the purpose of avoiding the prohibition of this section shall be deemed a financial interest of the physician.
(5) A “physician’s office” is either of the following:
(A) An office of a physician in solo practice.
(B) An office in which the services or goods are personally provided by the physician or by employees in that office, or personally by independent contractors in that office, in accordance with other provisions of law. Employees and independent contractors shall be licensed or certified when that licensure or certification is required by law.
(6) The “office of a group practice” is an office or offices in which two or more physicians are legally organized as a partnership, professional corporation, or not-for-profit corporation licensed according to subdivision (a) of Section 1204 of the Health and Safety Code for which all of the following are applicable:
(A) Each physician who is a member of the group provides substantially the full range of services that the physician routinely provides, including medical care, consultation, diagnosis, or treatment, through the joint use of shared office space, facilities, equipment, and personnel.
(B) Substantially all of the services of the physicians who are members of the group are provided through the group and are billed in the name of the group and amounts so received are treated as receipts of the group, and except that in the case of multispecialty clinics, as defined in subdivision (l) of Section 1206 of the Health and Safety Code, physician services are billed in the name of the multispecialty clinic and amounts so received are treated as receipts of the multispecialty clinic.
(C) The overhead expenses of, and the income from, the practice are distributed in accordance with methods previously determined by members of the group.
(7) Outpatient surgery includes both of the following:
(A) Any procedure performed on an outpatient basis in the operating rooms, ambulatory surgery rooms, endoscopy units, cardiac catheterization laboratories, or other sections of a freestanding ambulatory surgery clinic, whether or not licensed under paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 1204 of the Health and Safety Code.
(B) The ambulatory surgery itself.
(8) “Pharmacy goods” means any dangerous drug or dangerous device as defined by Section 4022 of the Business and Professions Code, any medical food as defined by Section 109971 of the Health and Safety Code, and any over-the-counter drug as classified by the federal Food and Drug Administration, except over-the-counter drugs sold at commercially reasonable rates in physical retail outlets commonly accessed by the public.
(c) (1) It is unlawful for a licensee to enter into an arrangement or scheme, such as a cross-referral arrangement, that the licensee knows, or should know, has a principal purpose of ensuring referrals by the licensee to a particular entity that, if the licensee directly made referrals to that entity, would be in violation of this section.
(2) It shall be unlawful for a physician to offer, deliver, receive, or accept any rebate, refund, commission, preference, patronage dividend, discount, or other consideration, whether in the form of money or otherwise, as compensation or inducement for a referred evaluation or consultation.
(d) No claim for payment shall be presented by an entity to any individual, third-party payor, or other entity for any goods or services furnished pursuant to a referral prohibited under this section.
(e) A physician who refers to or seeks consultation from an organization in which the physician has a financial interest shall disclose this interest to the patient or if the patient is a minor, to the patient’s parents or legal guardian in writing at the time of the referral.
(f) No insurer, self-insurer, or other payor shall pay a charge or lien for any goods or services resulting from a referral in violation of this section.
(g) A violation of subdivision (a) shall be a misdemeanor. The appropriate licensing board shall review the facts and circumstances of any conviction pursuant to subdivision (a) and take appropriate disciplinary action if the licensee has committed unprofessional conduct. Violations of this section may also be subject to civil penalties of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each offense, which may be enforced by the Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, or a district attorney. A violation of subdivision (c), (d), (e), or (f) is a public offense and is punishable upon conviction by a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) for each violation and appropriate disciplinary action, including revocation of professional licensure, by the Medical Board of California or other appropriate governmental agency.
(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 545, Sec. 2. (AB 378) Effective January 1, 2012.)