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Health Care Partner Linda Baumann quoted in Bloomberg BNA article on Bill to Amend the Stark Law

Legislation is moving forward that could potentially ease the penalties associated with alleged violations of the physician self-referral (Stark) law.

The House Ways and Means Committee will consider the Stark Administrative Simplification Act of 2017 (H.R. 3726). The Act would establish an additional self-disclosure protocol for providers who disclose inadvertent technical violations of the Stark law which generally prohibits doctors from referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, labs and imaging centers, with which they have a financial relationship, unless the arrangement satisfies all the criteria of a Stark exception. The law and its exceptions are complex, and since the statute creates strict liability, many hospitals and other providers have been paying millions of dollars in damages for certain inadvertent technical violations.

Arent Fox Health Care partner Linda Baumann notes that “the bill could be invaluable for providers by giving them an easier path to dealing with certain instances of technical noncompliance with the Stark law.” She added “[t]he Stark law's complex nature makes it easy for a provider, especially a hospital, to find that one or more of their contracts doesn't satisfy all of the criteria to qualify for a Stark exception. Many of these violations are technical and don't pose any significant risk of fraud and abuse. I think many people in the government as well as in the provider community have been concerned about the draconian penalties that can be imposed for such technical lapses. The current self-disclosure [protocol] can be helpful, but there's no way of knowing what type of penalty a provider might face before self-disclosing. The bill's penalties are much more consistent with the level of technical Stark violations, and would give providers an incentive to come forward and address any technical issues.”

To read the article in full, click here


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