Many physicians are familiar with Stark Law, which prohibits a physician from referring a Medicaid or Medicare patient to a health care entity where the physician or their family has a financial interest. With a goal of reducing healthcare fraud and abuse, the law sets forth technical compliance requirements. Also known as the Physician Self-Referral Law, Stark Law has been known for its strict liability nature. The law requires physicians to meet technical exceptions or face severe punishments ranging from significant fines and penalties to recoupment obligations and added liability under the federal False Claims Act.
Lawmakers have recently made several technical changes to Stark Law in response to heavy criticism by physicians and others in the health care industry. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in February 2018, changes Stark Law’s writing requirement, signature requirement, and holdover arrangement provisions.
Changes to the Writing Requirement
One of the new technical fixes to Stark Law codifies the writing requirement. Stark Law requires that the financial arrangement with the physician must be memorialized in a signed writing. Going forward, this writing requirement can be satisfied by a collection of documents, including contemporaneous documents evidencing the course of conduct between the parties involved.
Changes to the Signature Requirement
Stark Law also requires a signature on the document, which memorializes the financial relationship between the physician and the entity to which the Medicare or Medicaid patients are being referred. This technical requirement was changed to adopt the current Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation, which provides for a 90-day period of temporarily non-compliance, with respect to the signature requirement.
Changes to Holdover Arrangement Provisions
The last technical change affects the holdover arrangement provisions of Stark Law. The law currently provides for certain exceptions regarding personal service arrangements and leases. There is now an indefinite holdover period with respect to these exceptions if the holdover is on the same terms and conditions as the original personal service arrangement or lease agreement.
CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, recently indicated that an interagency review may lead to further reductions with respect to the more burdensome Stark Law requirements. Many physicians remain hopeful that larger, more significant changes to Stark Law are in the future.
Philadelphia Health Care Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Physicians with Stark Law RequirementsIf you are a physician who has been accused of accepting kickbacks or otherwise violating the requirements of Stark Law, the Philadelphia health care lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. are here to help. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at 215-569-1999 or submit an online inquiry form.