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Bringing Wellness Services Onsite: Remember the Corporate Practice of Medicine!

The following article does NOT constitute legal advice and should not be used as such. It is for educational purposes only. Readers should retain legal counsel to obtain definitive answers.

A client recently expressed interest in delivering wellness services onsite at various manufacturing companies. He is a licensed chiropractor and was hoping to teach employees about how to safely perform physical tasks in order to avoid injury, as well as catch potential injuries at the earliest possible stage. The manufacturers were willing to hire him as an independent contractor to come in for a few hours every week to conduct these activities. This proposal seemed not only like a good idea, but somewhat necessary to keep employees working at their best.

Yet, because of the corporate practice of medicine, or CPOM, the chiropractor was not allowed to conduct his services onsite at the manufacturer, at least in Illinois. Illinois happens to have a very strict CPOM law, prohibiting employers from even contracting with licensed providers on an independent contractor basis to deliver licensed services onsite.

What is CPOM? According to the American Health Lawyers Association, CPOM is a state-based doctrine that seeks to prohibit non-physicians from interfering with a physician’s professional judgment. One way that a non-physician, such as a company owned by a non-physician, can interfere with a physician’s professional judgment is by hiring them. For many states, such as California, this means that non-physician owned companies cannot employ licensed physicians (or other types of licensed professionals) directly. Instead, California companies must hire the licensed physician as an independent contractor, where there is less likelihood of the company influencing the judgment of the licensed provider.

Illinois’s CPOM law, however, is stricter than the law in California. According to Illinois legal experts with whom I have spoken, a non-physician owned company may not even hire a licensed provider as an independent contractor. The only way that a licensed provider could be present on the premises of a non-physician owned company is if the licensed provider leased space from the company and saw patients in that leased space and billed the patients directly; the company would not be able to sponsor the licensed provider’s services as that would constitute too much influence over the licensed provider, at least according to Illinois CPOM doctrine.

As seen from the differences between California and Illinois, CPOM can vary from state to state. So, if you are a licensed wellness provider seeking to provide onsite services at a non-licensed provider owned company, such as a manufacturer or other type of corporation, it is imperative that you know and understand your state’s CPOM law. Depending on the strictness of the law, you may or may not be able to deliver the services you want in the way that you want. Competent legal counsel can usually find ways to help you deliver your wellness services in a compliant manner, despite CPOM doctrine. If you are in violation of a state’s CPOM doctrine, insurers, to the extent they may pay for your services, may refuse to pay because they were delivered in violation of the CPOM law. So, be sure to consult legal counsel, such as the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC, before moving forward with your onsite wellness services.

Barbara Zabawa

Barbara J. Zabawa

President of the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC

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