In an unexpected development, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently proposed several changes that will generally add greater flexibility to Stark Law regulations in the proposed physician fee schedule for calendar year 2016, which was published on July 15, 2015.[1] Many of these changes appear to respond to concerns the provider community has raised over the years regarding the difficulty of complying with the Stark Law’s complex requirements. The proposed rule also contains many specific requests for comment. If the proposed rule is finalized, hundreds, if not thousands, of contracts could be affected, and the revised regulations could make a tremendous difference to most hospitals and other providers’ efforts to ensure Stark Law compliance. Below, we summarize many of the key provisions in the proposed rule related to the Stark Law.

Given CMS’ current apparent willingness to listen to the provider community’s concerns, health care providers should carefully evaluate the proposed regulations and take advantage of the opportunity to submit comments. It is likely that some commenters will object to some or all of these changes on the theory that they will lead to greater fraud and abuse. Therefore, it could be particularly helpful for individual providers to submit comments, in addition to whatever comments are submitted by their trade associations, in order to demonstrate to CMS the widespread support for these types of revisions to Stark Law regulations. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by CMS no later than Sept. 8.

This alert was originally published in Health Law360. To view the full article, click here.