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The Travel Act: State crimes become federal crimes

Lester J. Perling (lester.perling@nelsonmullins.com) is a Partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel.

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) makes it a crime to solicit or receive remuneration, specifically kickbacks or bribes, for patient referrals (among other activities) when the source of payment is a federal healthcare program (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare).[1] The AKS does not give the federal government jurisdiction to prosecute cases that don’t involve federal healthcare programs. Kickback schemes involving private payers are often covered under individual state laws and are prosecuted by state governments.

Because the AKS is limited to situations in which a federal healthcare program is the source of coverage, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun employing a new strategy to combat illegal remuneration cases, regardless of the source. If the acts of an individual or entity involve some interstate activity and rise to a level of priority for the federal government, the DOJ may use the Travel Act, which criminalizes unlawful activity crossing state lines, to implicate state law violations on the federal level.

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