April 5, 2021

On March 24, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) updated the frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) providing guidance on the flexibilities available to providers in responding to COVID-19. Specifically, as a part of this most recent update, the OIG provided guidance relating to federal qualified health centers (“FQHCs”) and the provision of free space for the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations.

In this update, the OIG notes the need for effective and expeditious administration of COVID-19 vaccines and recognizes the challenges of vaccine distribution in rural areas. The OIG observes that based on longstanding guidance, ordinarily if an FQHC were to provide free space to an actual or potential referral source, the Federal anti-kickback statue would be implicated. However, if an FQHC provides free use of space for a pharmacy to operate a vaccination clinic, and the pharmacy directs and operates all aspects of the clinic with no renumeration exchanged, the scenario would pose a low risk of fraud and abuse under the statute because of the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The OIG has provided a variety of FAQs addressing administrative enforcement authorities, beyond the one described above.

For questions on this or other COVID-19 related issues, please contact a member of Hancock Daniel’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Click here for a full PDF of this advisory.

The information contained in this advisory is for general educational purposes only. It is presented with the understanding that neither the author nor Hancock, Daniel & Johnson, P.C., is offering any legal or other professional services. Since the law in many areas is complex and can change rapidly, this information may not apply to a given factual situation and can become outdated. Individuals desiring legal advice should consult legal counsel for up-to-date and fact-specific advice. Under no circumstances will the author or Hancock, Daniel & Johnson, P.C. be liable for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages resulting from the use of this material.

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