Recruited Physician Moving Existing Practice
Not all recruited physicians are new to the field. Some recruited physicians have existing practices. The reasons why these physicians may wish to relocate their practices vary. They may be struggling financially, or the physician may desire being affiliating with a more prestigious hospital. Whatever the reasons, the Stark II laws also apply to their recruitment arrangements.
Everything explained above relating to new physicians going into a private practice or joining an existing practice is also true for physicians who have been in practice longer than one year. However, they also have an additional requirement to meet in order to be eligible for the financial incentives of recruitment.
That requirement is relocation. The physician's practice must meet the guidelines for being relocated as explained in the Stark II rules. These guidelines say that the practice must meet one of two requirements.
The first possible requirement is that the practice is moved at least 25 miles. The second possible requirement is that 75% of the practice's revenue comes from providing services to patients who were not treated at the previous practice during the last three years.
Only one of these requirements must be met in order for a physician's practice to be considered relocated and eligible for recruitment benefits.
The Hospital's Geographic Area
Regardless of the physician's status, one rule in the Stark II laws applies to all recruited physicians. According to that rule, these physicians must relocate or locate their practices (or join existing practices) within the hospital's geographic area.
While that may seem to be a common sense rule, the Stark II laws also outline what is meant by the hospital's geographic area because the term itself can be viewed as vague.
In the Stark II laws, the geographic area is defined as the smallest amount of adjacent zip codes which compromise at least 75% of the hospital's patients. The data used by the hospital to determine its geographic area should come from the year just prior to the recruitment arrangement.
To be eligible for any recruitment benefits under the Stark II laws, the physician must move his or her practice into that geographic area.
The bottom line is that the dynamics of physician recruiting have changed in the last couple of years. While physicians can still get good benefits from a hospital, these new laws may make it more challenging hospitals to find eligible and willing physicians to recruit.
Importantly, physicians who are considering signing recruitment agreements must read those agreements carefully to ensure they do not violate the Stark II laws.
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About the Author
Amy Jorgensen is a freelance writer based in southern Indiana. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Southern California Physician magazine.
The author has no financial relationship to any of the companies listed in the article.