Talking turkey: North Carolina law to end practice of bribing Medicaid patients

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A new law in North Carolina makes it illegal for Medicaid providers to accept or offer compensation—of any type—in exchange for referring patients for medical services.

State Medicaid officials had identified an illegal scheme wherein Medicaid providers would offer patients cash, appliances and, in some cases, turkeys, to persuade patients to undergo unnecessary medical procedures, according to a press release from Gov. Bev Perdue (D). One major case in North Carolina involved a pharmaceutical supply company that paid kickbacks to nursing homes in exchange for referrals to the company for drug purchases. The state eventually recovered roughly $2.8 million from that scheme, according to the governor's office.

Though the legislature approved it in early July, Perdue did not sign the law until this week. The law takes effect Dec 1.