HHS seeks Stark Law exceptions to boost value-based care

CMS on Wednesday released a proposed rule to remove what they describe as unintended hurdles to coordination of patient care due to outdated rules about clinicians' financial relationships. The measure would create new exceptions to the so-called Stark law, which dates to 1989.

CMS on Wednesday released a proposed rule to remove what they describe as unintended hurdles to coordination of patient care due to outdated rules about clinicians' financial relationships. The measure would create new exceptions to the so-called Stark law, which dates to 1989. The Stark law was intended to stop physicians from profiting at the expense of patients at a time when there was little challenge to Medicare's fee-for-service model. But fear of the law can stand in the way of what CMS describes as value-based arrangements at a time of increasing emphasis on pegged Medicare payment to judgements about the quality of care delivered. "We serve patients poorly when government regulations gather dust in the attic: they become ever more stale and liable to wreak havoc throughout the health care system," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement about the proposed changes. The proposed rule would make it easier for firms to donate software that protects electronic health records (EHRs) from hacking. This builds on a current exception to the Stark law regarding EHR software and training services, CMS said in the rule. HHS issued a companion proposed rule that examines federal antikickback laws, which date to 1972, also emphasizing the need for special carve-out for cybersecurity.