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CMS Reaches Four Settlements Under the Stark Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol in August and September

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced four settlements via the Voluntary Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (SRDP) under the federal Stark Law. CMS reached three Stark law settlements in August 2013 and on additional settlement in September 2013, totaling approximately $178,000.

On August 19, 2013, CMS settled Stark law violations by a Louisiana physician group practice. Under the SRDP, the Louisiana practice disclosed that it violated the Stark Law because two of its physician arrangements failed to satisfy the requirements of the in-office ancillary services exception to the Stark Law. The violations were settled for $13,572.

On August 20, 2013, CMS reached a settlement with a non-profit community hospital located in Minnesota which disclosed that its arrangement with a physician group practice for the rental of office space and performance of support services failed to satisfy the requirements of the applicable exception under the Stark Law. The Minnesota hospital’s violations were settled for $9,570.

On August 29, 2013, CMS settled two Stark law violations by a California acute-psychiatric hospital. The California hospital disclosed under the SRDP that it violated the physician self-referral law because its arrangements with two physicians to provide psychiatric services did not satisfy the requirements of any applicable Stark law exception. The violations were settled for $67,750.

Lastly, on September 10, 2013, CMS reached a settlement with an acute care hospital located in North Carolina which disclosed Stark law violations due to the following three arrangements: (1) its arrangement with a physician to provide medical director services; (2) its arrangement with a physician group to provide medical coding and consulting services; and (3) its arrangement with a physician and a physician group practice for the lease of office space, as none of the above arrangements met the requirements of any applicable Stark law exception. CMS and the North Carolina hospital settled these violations for $87,110.

CMS maintains a list of these settlements as well as other select Stark law violations resolved under the SRDP online. Wachler & Associates attorneys have regularly counseled hospitals and other providers in navigating the Stark Law since 1995. The high amount of settlements throughout 2013 may indicate that CMS is directing increased attention towards hospitals resolving Stark law violations under the SRDP. For more information on the Stark Law, or for assistance with Stark compliance measures for your healthcare entity, please call an experienced healthcare attorney at 248-544-0888.