At the time of this writing, President Obama signaled he will be signing an Executive Order to increase the wage for workers under new federal contracts from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.
Most doctors, of course, are not federal employees.
But, most doctors accept reimbursement from the federal government under Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, etc. If you do participate in such programs, do you have to comply with the new federal minimum wage order?
While this is not legal advice, guidance is found on the Department of Labor’s website.
Is a hospital or other health care provider covered under the laws enforced by Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) as a result of the reimbursements it receives for medical care and services provided to Medicare or Medicaid patients?
The provider agreements, pursuant to which hospitals and other health care providers receive reimbursement for services covered under Medicare Parts A and B, and the provider agreements that hospitals and other health care facilities have entered into with State Medicaid agencies, are not covered Government contracts under the laws enforced by OFCCP. Accordingly, a hospital or other health care provider is not covered under the laws enforced by OFCCP if its only relationship with the Federal government is as a participating provider under Medicare Parts A and B and Medicaid. Please note that a hospital or other health care provider may be a covered contractor because of other contractual arrangements, such as providing health care to active or retired military under a contract with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or the Department of Defense. Likewise, a teaching hospital doing research for a university that has a contract with the Federal government may be covered.
So, there you have it.
This makes sense. Just because you accept Medicare reimbursement does not mean you automatically become a federal employee for purposes of professional liability. If you were a bona-fide federal employee, you could not be sued directly for medical malpractice. A patient could sue the federal government (your employer) under the Federal Tort Claims Act. But, recovery under that act follows specific procedures and is often limited.
While participation in federal government reimbursement programs has myriad rules and regulations…and often makes you tear your hair out, it is likely the new rule addressing minimum wage for federal contractors will not apply to most doctors.