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Legislators take aim at Stark law in light of value-based payment changes

Representatives and senators seek input on self-referral laws

Legislators are asking industry stakeholders for input regarding potential changes to the Stark law in light of the ongoing transition toward value-based payments, according to a report by Bloomberg BNA.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have expressed interest in making changes to physician self-referral rules governed under the Stark law following the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) last year. MACRA made substantial changes to physician payment regulations by establishing a Merit-Based Payment System and moving away from fee-for-service reimbursement.

Healthcare attorneys told Bloomberg BNA that the request for input, which ends Feb. 5, indicates the government is aware of how the current Stark law clashes with a value-based payment structure. Under the current structure, fear of Stark law violations could prevent physicians from effectively coordinating patient care. However, the complexity of the law means any changes will likely elicit more confusion and cause even more problems for some providers.

"Clients feel the Stark law punishments are grossly unfair and the law itself is too complex," Linda Baumann, an attorney with Arent Fox LLP in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA.

Stark law litigation--and physician compensation agreements, in particular--have become a focal point for providers and federal enforcement officials. After the Office of Inspector General released a fraud alert last June reminding providers that physician compensation must reflect fair market value, two health systems coughed up nearly $190 million in settlements to resolve Stark law violations.

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg BNA article

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