On November 20, 2020, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a finalized update to the Stark Law. The agency notes that this update will address “any undue regulatory impact and burden” that has resulted from the regulations imbedded within this self-referral law.
Why the change?
The Stark Law prohibits physicians from making referrals for designated services payable by Medicare when the physician has a financial relationship, unless there is an exception. This includes ownership and compensation relationships. Although good in theory, the reality resulted in a hurdle between physicians and other healthcare providers. Those who were working to help better ensure the patient received quality care needed to navigate the restrictions of this law or face serious penalties.
After decades of navigating these hurdles, lawmakers have started to respond to the complaints filed by healthcare professionals. Hence, the update.
What should healthcare providers know about this update?
The update, available here, is a part of the agency’s Patients over Paperwork initiative. The update specifically addresses certain value-based arrangements between physicians. The majority of the changes go into effect January 19, 2021. These changes include additional exceptions, such as certain value-based compensation arrangements and donations of cybersecurity technology.
Ultimately, a representative for the CMS states that the agency intends these changes to lead to support of legitimate activities between healthcare providers that aim to improve quality of care for patients while also lowering the cost of healthcare.