On March 4, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced a voluntary Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (“SRDP”) that will allow physician-owned hospitals and rural providers an alternative way to remedy certain issues of noncompliance with the federal Stark Law (“Stark Law”).1  CMS has provided special instructions regarding a voluntary SRDP for physician-owned hospitals that have been noncompliant with the requirement that physician ownership and investment interests must be disclosed on hospital websites and other advertisements. 

In order to be eligible for the new SRDP opportunity, the physician-owned or rural hospital cannot disclose noncompliance with any other Stark Law requirements.  The recent CMS guidance lists the information that would need to be submitted with the disclosure, including  identifying information for the hospital, any period(s) of noncompliance and other certifications regarding the hospital’s period of noncompliance.  Notably, CMS does not require any Medicare referral dollar calculations to be submitted along with this voluntary SRDP submission.

Practical Takeaways

Physician-owned hospitals that believe they may have had a lapse in compliance with the website and advertising requirements of the Stark Law are encouraged to take advantage of the new SRDP.  Because Medicare referral information is not required as a part of the disclosure, preparation of such disclosures and review by CMS should be more efficient than under the traditional SRDP model.

Physician-owned hospitals that have additional Stark Law compliance issues should consider a potential disclosure to CMS under the traditional SRDP process.