Many doctors across the country have begun to establish charities which are tax-exempt, raising concerns that they are ripe for pharmaceutical and medical device maker gifts, the New York Times reported this week.
Although certainly charities can legitimately aid research and education, because these are tax-except and largely unmonitored, they essentially fly in the face of recent efforts in the healthcare industry to put limitations on drug company gifts via anti-kickback regulations and other changes. The money that is being placed into these charities by companies can add up to millions of dollars every year, the Times reports.
One concern is that even if monies that are given to the charities do go towards legitimate research, the research could do little to actually further medical science but could well do more to bolster the reputation of a sponsoring physician or practice, the Times reports.
No one is sure how many of these charities now exist, but as long as the money goes towards work that benefits patients and the healthcare community they are considered legitimate. However, there have been instances where money circles back in the form of a fellowship to a for-profit practice to pad the salary of a physician, and that’s not OK, according to the Times.
Certainly some of the charities are on the level. Lawyers who have investigated this problem believe that to truly determine the legitimacy of these charities, the activities for each one would have to be thoroughly investigated, the Times reports.