In Texas, there are many laws and regulations that govern how physicians, medical providers, and business professionals operate in the state’s healthcare sector. For instance, the state of Texas enforces the Corporation Practice of Medicine (CPOM) doctrine. Other federal laws that concern physicians and other medical professionals are the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickbacks Statute.
What Is The CPOM?
The Texas’ Corporate Practice of Medicine (CPOM) law is a legal doctrine that generally prohibits entities, corporations, or individuals from practicing medicine. Corporations and businesses are also prohibited from employing physicians to provide professional medical services. These prohibitions are aimed at protecting the public. Under these laws, only licensed healthcare practitioners are allowed to practice medicine. This is to ensure that patients get sound medical care with reduced risks, and that the trust that a patient has in a physician’s ability to use uninhibited medical judgment is not broken. Basically, the CPOM makes it impossible for corporations to exert control over the health care provided by licensed providers.
The CPOM And Physician Relationships
Physicians enter into relationships and agreements with business professionals, employees, and other physicians. When developing a relationship, physicians should be aware that the CPOM prohibits them from entering into partnerships, fee splitting, employee relationships, or other situations with non-physicians in a way that interfere with the independent medical judgment of the physician. The physician should always provide services with the goal of helping the patient feel better.
A physician can enter into an independent contractor agreement with non-physicians. The parties that enter an independent contractor agreement must agree that the independent contractor is not an employee as far as the client is concerned. That means that the contractor cannot enjoy the benefits of an employee. There are legal requirements that determine whether a relationship qualifies as a client and contractor relationship.
What Are Some CPOM Exceptions
There are certain relationships that are permitted between physicians and non-physicians. These include physician employment by:
- Federally qualified practices
- Various rural health clinics
- Non-Profit medical schools
- Migrant health centers
- School districts
- State mandated institutions or hospitals
However, the above institutions or organizations must meet certain requirements before they get to hire physicians.
Violating CPOM Rules
Any physician or entity that violates corporate medicine prohibitions faces a number of penalties. In Texas, the Texas Medical Board is authorized to impose fines, suspend licenses and use other disciplinary actions on violators of CPOM rules. To avoid CPOM problems, thoroughly evaluate all transactions, relationships, contracts, and work arrangements to ensure they meet all the legal requirements. An experienced attorney that knows how to navigate Texas health care laws can help protect your rights if you are accused of violating CPOM rules. In case you have a complaint against a physician or an entity that has a relationship with a physician, your lawyer can help you guide you through the Texas Medical Board complaint process. You should also consult an attorney for matters such as TMB complaints, partnership break-ups, and fraud and abuse allegations.