Contractors, Kick Backs and Clarity – That’s Why We’re Here for Advocates

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(updated January 2017)

We’ve seen fireworks in the APHA Forum before.  And we’ve dealt with them. The beautiful thing about the Forum is that allows free conversations on every topic imaginable. But of course, as with any group of highly intelligent, motivated and capable people, we’re not always going to agree.  We experienced that again this week.

One of our very active and valued members had visited her attorney to work on her contracts. She raised the idea of working with independent contractors, and her attorney immediately advised her against it.  As she reported in the Forum, “He advised me to steer clear due to federal anti-kickback statutes. This is in part because I’m a licensed clinician (NP). But it seems anyone else who is contemplating the use of subcontractors should probably vet it with her or his attorney, especially if you plan on taking a cut.”

Here’s the GOOD and USEFUL part of her report – that she suggests others should discuss and vet the use of subcontractors with their attorneys.  Amen. So right. Great advice.

The problem with her post, however, is that it does not apply to 99.9% of APHA’s members who are working with subcontractors. There are two reasons for that, on which I elaborated in my reply in the Forum. The problem, of course, is that information that doesn’t apply might keep someone from trying a successful approach to business.  Others chimed in with their thoughts on the subject. It became somewhat contentious. And it most definitely required clarification.

Here’s what we can learn from this sort of exchange:

First – this member is the third person who has asked questions or made statements to me in the past several weeks that indicated she does not understand the method by which advocates can and should legally, ethically and profitably work with other advocates. The process has been clearly defined, the contracts are available – there is no reason why anyone should miss that mark unless they’ve simply drawn assumptions about how it would work without actually reading about it or asking questions. That means they aren’t taking advantage of the resources available.

Here are some of those resources:

Second – we can learn that not everyone has the same set of circumstances and therefore not everyone has the same point of view.  We can become contentious, we can agree to disagree, or we can learn from each other in order to improve our own businesses.  Obviously, the last option – learn from each other – is the best choice of the three, but agreeing to disagree is acceptable, too.

Third – This is business!  It’s not personal. But it’s extremely important that we take this “learn from each other” approach – and I appreciate that even if the comment that sparked this week’s fireworks didn’t reflect the circumstances under which most of us operate, many of the rest of us learned from it. 

And of course – there was the very sage “talk to your own attorney” advice.  Muy importante.

If you THINK you know what subcontracting is – well – you may not. None of the three folks mentioned above did – and they all THOUGHT they did. So please check out the resources above and make sure you do understand the approach that can help you grow your business and enhance your profitability – legally and ethically.

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