- Provider groups tentatively applauded proposals to ease anti-kickback laws as federal regulators seek to remove barriers they say inhibit innovative payment and care arrangements. HHS unveiled the proposed rules Wednesday.
- Many providers cheered the news although some said they were still looking at the details. The American Hospital Association said a change to the decades-old law is long overdue.
- However, not all providers welcomed the revamp. The Medical Group Management Association said it's disappointed the proposal fails to "meaningfully reform fundamental problems with Stark Law's application to medical practices."
The anti-kickback laws were passed during an era when much of healthcare was reimbursed for each service provided. The laws were intended to deter physicians from referring patients to other services or places that would financially benefit them.
The proposal aims to relax the rules as the healthcare industry switches to payments based on value rather than volume.
Federal officials said the proposed changes address longstanding concerns the regulations hinder coordinated care for patients.
AHA agreed a revamp was necessary.
"Despite widespread agreement by Congress, and even previous administrations, that these regulations needed to be modernized, [Wednesday's] proposal is the first major step toward achieving that goal," the group said in a statement.
AHA said removing the "outdated barriers" will allow hospitals and doctors to quickly implement new ways to treat and care for patients. For example, AHA said the change would allow providers to offer more in-depth counseling to discharged patients to help them avoid complications and provide services such as remote monitoring and meal delivery to speed their recovery.
The American Medical Association said while it was still assessing the full scope of the proposals, it was pleased to see the administration acknowledge the need for change.
But not everyone was happy with Wednesday's proposed rules.
MGMA was critical of the changes, noting they fail to address lingering issues such as how to structure financial relationships between a health system and a group practice.
There's still a need for guidelines that can be "practically applied by practices that offer ancillary services such as imaging, physical therapy, or laboratory services when structuring physician compensation arrangements," MGMA said in a statement.
The group also said the penalties now in place are "totally disproportionate to the conduct being regulated" and also need revision.