Lyft, the ride sharing app, has just launched a new feature which allows patients to schedule rides on their own. Although using ride-sharing apps in healthcare isn't novel; previously, healthcare organizations or insurers were required to schedule Lyft on behalf of the patient. Now, the healthcare organizations can send a patient a code or a link and the patient can schedule the ride themselves.

It appears Lyft is helping organizations safe guard against fraud and abuse concerns arising from the Civil Monetary Penalties Law (CMPL) and the Anti-Kickback Statute by allowing the organizations to actively monitor and set parameters on the costs per ride, approving pick up and drop off locations, setting the times the passes can be used and setting budgets for the overall program.

During the pandemic HHS OIG has provided some guidance about the fact that it is using its enforcement discretion for certain types of arrangements. Nearly a year ago, they included an FAQ regarding free transportation. See OIG FAQ on COVID-19 Enforcement Authorities. It's not a proverbial get-out-of-jail free card, but could be of use to certain providers, especially coupled with Lyft's new feature.

Despite Lyft's safeguards and the OIG FAQs, it's vital that the organizations set policies that are in compliance with the fraud and abuse laws as well as their payor contracts and seek appropriate guidance from their legal teams.