Stipends (or subsidy payments) are an area we are seeing a lot of activity in lately. It is not uncommon in the market for hospitals to subsidize physician groups in order to ensure physician compensation at market levels, particularly in markets that are heavily impacted by low reimbursement rates. From a compliance standpoint, one of the biggest issues is whether or not the subsidy payment represents fair market value (FMV). While it may seem straightforward, taking a physician group’s historical income statement (or in cases of a start-up venture a financial statement projection) at face value for paying a stipend is a bad idea. Why? Because without dissecting the various components you don’t really know what drives that number. You don’t know if market factors contribute to the loss, if the practice’s loss is due to internal operating characteristics or, as in many cases, a combination of both. So what do you look for? Below are three critical areas of any group’s income statement that should be examined, and if necessary adjusted, to determine true market driven subsidy needs.
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