The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have recently announced a tally of 29 settlements under the Voluntary Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (SRDP). In the month of June alone, CMS settled six different cases of violations of the physician self-referral statute, also known as the Stark law, throughout the country. Disclosing providers make SRDP submissions with the intent of resolving overpayment liability exposure for conduct that the providers voluntarily identify.
Most recently, on June 20, 2013, CMS and an acute care hospital in Pennsylvania settled a Stark violation case for $24,740 after the hospital disclosed that “arrangements for medical director services with certain physicians and a physician practice did not satisfy the requirements of any applicable [Stark] exception.” On June 18, 2013, CMS and a critical access hospital based in Wisconsin settled a case for $12,724.00. In this case, the hospital revealed a situation where a physician arrangement for emergency room call coverage services at the hospital’s nearby walk-in clinics did not meet the requirements of a Stark exception. Also on June 18, a Tennessee hospital settled a case with CMS for $72,270 after disclosing an arrangement involving a physician supervising cardiac stress tests which did not satisfy any requirements of a Stark law exception. On June 12, an acute care hospital in Alabama and CMS settled a case for $187,340 involving a physician group practice arrangement for rental of office space that did not satisfy the requirements of the applicable Stark exception. CMS announced on June 6 that Florida General Acute Hospital settled a case for $76,000 based on multiple disclosures regarding several arrangements that did not satisfy the requirements of any Stark exceptions, and on June 5, CMS announced that Florida Acute Hospital settled a case for $109,000 that involved multiple arrangements with physicians for emergency cardiology call coverage that did not meet requirements of any applicable Stark exceptions.
Wachler & Associates healthcare attorneys have regularly counseled hospitals and other providers in navigating the Stark law since 1995. The amount of high settlements announced in June involving hospitals may suggest that CMS is directing astute attention towards hospitals when resolving matters 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.