Florida Gets Tough on DME Licensure, Operating Home Health Agencies & Clinics

Florida_Capital.JPGFlorida is among the few states that permit what is referred to as the “corporate practice of medicine.” In many other states, medical and other health care entities are required to be owned by medical professionals individually or through professional associations that include only medical professionals.
Florida still requires practitioner only practices for dentists and last year enacted restrictions on Chiropractic practices. In many states that have these laws, non-practitioners have to go through legal machinations to have an investment interest in a medical practice without actually owning the practice. In many instances in Florida and elsewhere, physicians act as “straw owners” of their own medical practices and are in fact employees or partners with other individuals who control the practice.
In 2004, following the recommendations of a Statewide Grand Jury that looked into abuses with respect to Medicaid and personal injury clinics, Florida passed legislation to specifically permit ownership of health care practices by non-medical professionals with the Health Care Clinic Act. Disturbingly, the Act, which was enacted to shed light on ownership of health care clinics and prevent abuses, has become increasing difficult for applicants. In addition, the surveys of facilities required under the act have also gotten tougher. Oddly, the result of the increasingly tougher regulation may now cause the opposite result, causing many non-practitioners to go back to less open methods of ownership.
Effective July 1, 2009, persons applying for clinic, home health agency or DME provider licensure or a change of ownership now must a host of new financial information. Previously the financials included only a pro-forma for the operation of the clinic. Now, detailed financials also include information about the owner and how the entity will be capitalized.
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