A nursing home can use credit card rewards to purchase needed goods and services, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

Since there would be no referrals between the credit card issuers and the operator or its nursing home, the proposal to use credit card rewards would not be an anti-kickback violation, the OIG said. Also, the rewards would be characterized as part of an employee’s compensation for income tax purposes.

The OIG took up the matter after receiving a request from the operator of a nursing home interested in pursuing the issue. The government posted its advisory opinion Wednesday on its Web site.

The nursing home proposed using credit cards issued in its name to buy goods and services for the nursing home. The operator also said it may seek Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for the costs associated with its credit card purchases. Moreover, the nursing home plans to use rewards provided by the credit card issuers to purchase additional goods and services for the nursing home or give to employees as performance-based compensation.

More on the OIG’s advisory opinion is at http://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/docs/advisoryopinions/2007/AdvOpn07-03.pdf.