On Wednesday, February 3, ACG urged Congress to repeal the Stark Law and related Anti-Kickback Statute. The Senate Finance and House Ways & Means Committees early last month reached out to ACG for input on the Stark Law’s impact on clinical gastroenterology and private practices. ACG compiled the feedback from the ACG Governors, Practice Management and National Affairs Committees, which enabled ACG to provide real-world, state-by-state examples of how the Stark Law impedes innovation and prevents GI practices from improving care coordination. ACG also provided examples of recent federal policy changes that contradict the Stark Law, thus requiring more and more exceptions to the law. It is clear that the Stark Law and related restrictions need to go. Other highlights from the letter include:
- “ACG urges Congress to help foster an environment where small physician practices can remain independent. “Integration” and better coordination among providers does not require everything to be “in house.” This only creates a monopoly or oligopoly in health care markets. Competitive markets and small businesses (ie. physician practices) are crucial to lower costs and patient choice.”
- “In gastroenterology, both the Stark Law and the AKS especially pose challenges in the provision of anesthesia and pathology during an endoscopic procedure. These services are natural and necessary components to an underlying endoscopic procedure. Thus, gastroenterologists are not directing patients to undergo these services: The patients are there for the underlying endoscopy procedure itself.”
- “Fortunately Congress has passed provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) to provide additional safeguards against fraudulent self-referral and over-utilization. Thus, it is time for program integrity laws like the Stark Law and the AKS to be repealed or modified in order to better foster the goals of improving quality of care to Medicare and Medicaid patients.”
- “We must also eliminate the assumption that physician-investment leads to illicit profiteering. Independent physician practices are still made up of physicians who have personal ties to their patients and communities, and have the fiduciary responsibility to uphold their oaths as health care providers.”
Read the ACG’s letter to Senate Finance and House Ways & Means.
Whitfield L. Knapple, MD FACG
ACG National Affairs Committee, Chair