It looks like the HHS Office of Inspector General won't decide until late September or early October whether it should provide more guidance on physician-owned distributors (PODs). In June, the Senate Finance Committee's minority staff, led by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), along with Democratic chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), asked OIG to investigate PODs and recommend strategies for regulating them, and to report back by Aug. 12. That date has come and gone, but OIG said it would send the committee a letter indicating it needs more time, says Los Angeles attorney Brad Tully. PODs sell medical devices to hospitals, where they are often implanted by the surgeons who own the PODs. A recent report from the minority staff indicates that PODs may drive up Medicare costs and encourage unnecessary surgery. Already some hospitals have decided to stop doing business with PODs because they are worried about implications under the anti-kickback law. But POD defenders say they sell devices to hospitals at lower prices and offer an alternative to the device conglomerates.
What's your hospital's position on PODs?
How would a possible OIG crackdown on PODs affect the industry?