U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced a bill that would change Medicare’s Stark Law.
“The Medicare Care Coordination Improvement Act of 2017” would address concerns about the anti-kickback law and give the HHS Secretary the option to allow exceptions for alternative payment models.
Physicians groups, such as the American Medical Association, reportedly support the bill, which could have revenue implications for providers, particularly as the industry moves away from fee-for-service and more into value-based payment models.
The Senate bill comes after the House of Representatives passed its own bipartisan bill in July called the “Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017.” That bill included similar changes to the Stark Law.
The House bill would allow the HHS Secretary to determine how the law's writing requirement for some compensation arrangements could be bypassed, such as providing documents between the parties involved and allowing people to sign documents up to 90 days after in certain noncompliant compensation arrangements.
Health leaders have been trying to change the anti-kickback law for years, especially in light of changes to physician compensation. Stark Law opponents say the law prohibits doctors from referring Medicare patients to other healthcare entities if they have a financial relationship. It also creates barriers for providers to move into value-based care systems.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said last year that his committee would take action and added that Congress needed to make the law more “workable in terms of enforcement and compliance in both fee-for-service and value-based payment models.”
Two years ago, HHS finalized a rule that protects accountable care organizations (ACOs) against certain fraud and abuse laws. That helped ACOs, but the legislation on Capitol Hill is seen as another step forward and a boost for value-based care.