CMS Requesting Comment on Impact of Physician Self-Referral “Stark Law”

July 10, 2018

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a Request for Information (RFI) in late June seeking comment on how to address any undue regulatory impact and burden of the physician selfreferral law, better known as the Stark Law. WHA recently highlighted this issue during its member visits to Capitol Hill this last May.

The Stark Law has its roots in a 1989 law named after its lead author, former California Congressman Pete Stark. In an era where Medicare paid health care providers based on the volume of services provided, its goal was to ensure physicians refer patients for services and tests only based on whether they are necessary, by making sure physicians do not receive financial incentives for such referrals.

As part of its Patients over Paperwork initiative, CMS became aware of many concerns hospitals and health systems have expressed over the amount of time and resources needed to comply with the law’s numerous regulations. CMS is particularly interested in how the law impacts providers participating in (or considering participating in) integrated delivery models, alternative payment models, and arrangements designed to reward improvements in quality and reductions in cost. The RFI includes 20 questions, most of which focus on understanding how the law’s current exceptions and definitions are working as well as understanding the current cost of compliance.

WHA staff are evaluating the RFI, which is open for comment through August 24, 2018. Anyone with questions or comments about the RFI may contact Jon Hoelter, WHA director of federal and state relations. Those looking to submit comments may submit them electronically by going to and following the “Submit a comment” instructions.

This story originally appeared in the July 10, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter