Vascular access centers are a common ancillary service offered by a variety of physicians, mostly nephrologists. They provide a unique setting for patients requiring interventional vascular services in connection with things like oncology, dialysis, nutritional delivery, wound healing, pain management and more. Unlike many surgical services, however, they are typically not provided via a surgery center, but rather as part of (and inside) the physician’s practices.
H.R. 2914 is a bill filed by Congresswoman Speier that is intended (among other things) to prohibit medical practices providing the following sorts of medical services (“Non-ancillary Services”) to their own patients—
*The technical or professional component of (i) surgical pathology, (ii) cytopathology, (iii) hematology, (iv) blood banking, or (v) pathology consultation and clinical lab interpretation services
*Radiation therapy services and supplies
*Advanced diagnostic imaging studies (which include for instance MR and CT)
Since its passage in 1989, the now ubiquitous federal law known as the Stark Law has driven the business behavior of health care providers of many kinds. Recent developments, however, make us wonder whether the end of Stark is near, and if so, whether that’s a good thing.
By way of background, the Stark law has two components: part one, a self referral prohibition, generally forbids physicians from referring to a provider of any “designated health service” (DHS) (e.g. MRI, PT, clinical lab) if the physician or his/her immediate family member has a financial relationship (including ownership interest) with the provider of the service. Part two mandates that certain compensation arrangements between healthcare providers meet certain requirements. Things like medical director agreements, management agreements, employment and independent contractor arrangements have been regulated by the law since its inception. Most notably, for purposes of this article, one provision (the “In Office Ancillary Services” exception or “IOAS”, also known as the “Group Practice Exception”) has allowed medical practices to provide all sorts of “ancillary services” to their own patients. That is the key aspect of the law that is lately coming under serious attack.
via apta.org – – – APTA is highly encouraged by the proposal within President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget, released yesterday, to exclude therapy services, including physical therapy, along with radiation therapy and advanced imaging from the in-office ancillary services (IOAS) exception of the Stark self-referral laws.
The Office of Management and Budget concluded that closing the loophole for these services would provide a savings of $6.1 billion over the standard 10-year budget window, providing further evidence that these self-referral arrangements lead to overutilization of Medicare services and should be addressed by Congress.
On its own for many years and more recently as part of the Alliance for Integrity in Medicare (AIM) coalition of medical specialty, laboratory, radiation oncology, and medical imaging groups, APTA has long advocated for exclusion of physical therapy from the IOAS exception. APTA agrees with the Administration’s proposal on physician self-referral and believes this issue should be addressed as part of any fundamental delivery system reform.
APTA and its AIM partners continue to be gravely concerned about the ongoing misapplication of the IOAS exception to the physician self-referral law, believing this loophole results in increased spending, unnecessary use of medical services, and potentially compromised patient choice and care. Studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, and the Government Accountability Office, among others, have highlighted abuses that result from physician self referral. These ongoing issues serve only to erode the integrity of the Medicare program and undermine patient care.
APTA and AIM now strongly urge the 113th Congress to follow the recommendations of the Administration budget and pass legislation to remove physical therapy, advanced diagnostic imaging, anatomic pathology, and radiation therapy from the IOAS exception.
Chiropractors and medical doctors (or D.O.s) have had a long and somewhat complex relationship. Though they approach healthcare issues differently, there are many instances where they share care or even work together. Such “M.D./D.C.” relationships are legally complex, but often prove to be rewarding in many respects. Properly constructing the arrangements is critical, especially since government regulators and payers tend to view such arrangements with skepticism, alleging that the true reason for the combination is for chiropractors to avoid coverage restrictions.
The core legal issues the parties need to be aware of include:
Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.