Wisconsin Congressional Delegation Supports Stark Law Reform

Bipartisan letter sent to CMS backing regulatory reform efforts

April 30, 2019

In a letter dated April 9, Wisconsin’s entire Congressional Delegation expressed their support for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reform burdensome regulations associated with the Stark Law and Antikickback Statute. WHA has made Stark Law reform a key priority in recent federal advocacy efforts, meeting with federal lawmakers in D.C. and Wisconsin to discuss ways to improve it. WHA also sent comments to CMS in response to a request for information on how the agency might be able to ease providers’ regulatory burden under Stark Law.

The law, which is sometimes called the physician self-referral law, was originally intended to take away incentives for physicians to drive up the volume of Medicare services in a way that benefits their practices. However, over the years, as more and more regulations have been added to the federal register, WHA has heard from numerous members who struggle with the complexity of the law. This can lead to challenges in recruiting and hiring physicians as attorneys must pore over regulations to ensure physician contracts are in compliance. Additionally, it has proven to be a barrier to alternative payment models intended to reward and pay physicians based more on value rather than Medicare’s antiquated fee-for-service system.

In the letter to CMS, lawmakers highlighted Wisconsin’s consistent ranking as one of the highest quality states in the country for health care, and the paradox the Stark Law and Anti-kickback Statute can create as more hospitals and systems strive to better coordinate care and increase the value of care they provide patients. CMS is expected to release an updated proposed rule addressing Stark Law concerns in the coming weeks.

“I want to thank our entire Wisconsin Congressional Delegation for their support of this important issue,” said Eric Borgerding, WHA President and CEO. “WHA appreciates having lawmakers ready and willing to support our efforts to build upon Wisconsin’s reputation for excellence in health care quality and value.”

This story originally appeared in the April 30, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter