Question of the Week

What are the laws/regulations around listing providers on a hospital directory? We’re revamping our provider directory, and have heard there are certain requirements for listing a provider in a directory.  Can we limit the providers listed to just those who are employed by us?

The OIG has long had a safe harbor for “referral services.”  The regulation, at 42 CFR §1001.952(f), reads as follows:

Referral services.  As used in section 1128B of the Act, “remuneration” does not include any payment or exchange of anything of value between an individual or entity (“participant”) and another entity serving as a referral service (“referral service”), as long as all of the following four standards are met –

(1)        The referral service does not exclude as a participant in the referral service any individual or entity who meets the qualifications for participation.

(2)        Any payment the participant makes to the referral service is assessed equally against and collected equally from all participants and is based only on the cost of operating the referral service, and not on the volume or value of any referrals to or business otherwise generated by either party for the other party for which payment may be made in whole or in part under Medicare, Medicaid, or other Federal health care programs.

(3)        The referral service imposes no requirements on the manner in which the participant provides services to a referred person, except that the referral service may require that the participant charge the person referred at the same rate as it charges other persons not referred by the referral service, or that these services be furnished free of charge or at reduced charge.

(4)        The referral service makes the following five disclosures to each person seeking a referral, with each such disclosure maintained by the referral service in a written record certifying such disclosure and signed by either such person seeking a referral or by the individual making the disclosure on behalf of the referral service –

(i)         The manner in which it selects the group of participants in the referral service to which it could make a referral;

(ii)        Whether the participant has paid a fee to the referral service;

(iii)       The manner in which it selects a particular participant from this group for that person;

(iv)       The nature of the relationship between the referral service and the group of participants to whom it could make the referral; and

(v)        The nature of any restrictions that would exclude such an individual or entity from continuing as a participant.

Based on this, it would be OK to only list your employed providers in the directory. Just make sure that the list clearly discloses that only employed physicians are listed.

If you have a quick question about this, e-mail Dan Mulholland at