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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Submits Comment Letter on Improving “Stark Law"

    Len Marquez, Senior Director, Government Relations

    The AAMC Jan. 27 submitted a comment letter in response to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committee’s request for input on how to improve physician self-referral restrictions, otherwise known as the “Stark Law.”

    Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Better, Smarter, Healthier announcement that set a goal of tying 30 percent of traditional, fee-for-service Medicare payments to quality or value through alternative payment models (APM) by the end of 2016, and 50 percent of payments to these models by the end of 2018 [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 30, 2015].

    In the response, the AAMC explains that “to achieve the goals of delivery system reform, there is a need for changes to federal laws and regulations affecting hospital-physician arrangements, including the Physician Self-Referral Law (also known as “Stark”), the Anti-kickback law, and the Civil Monetary Penalties (CMP) Law.”

    The letter goes on to state that, “Since enactment of the self-referral law, there have been major changes in health care delivery and payment, including many initiatives to align payment with quality and to improve coordination of care. Our members report that provisions in these laws which were enacted to address issues in a fee-for-service system, present significant barriers to clinical and financial integration aimed at improving the quality of care, population health, and reducing costs.”

    The AAMC urges, “It is imperative that these barriers be removed as quickly as possible. Therefore, the AAMC suggests that Congress urge CMS to exercise its existing authority to establish an ‘alternative payment model’ exception under Stark. Alternatively, modifications can be made to existing exceptions to allow incentive payments to physicians participating in alternative payment models.”