Here's what physicians need to know in 2024 about Stark law, the strict liability statute that places restrictions on physicians making referrals for many Medicare-payable services to an entity if the physician or immediate family member has a financial relationship with the services.
Stark law updates
A 2024 Stark law compensation update has allowed ASCs, physician groups and hospitals to provide non-monetary compensation to physicians up to an amount of $507 throughout the calendar year.
Non-monetary payments that do not exceed $507 can be provided to physicians as long as the pay doesn't consider the volume or value of referrals from the physician and is not requested by the physician or their practice.
Other Stark law changes include the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which updated exceptions that allow hospitals and healthcare providers to offer physicians improved access to mental health services.
Recent cases to know
Indianapolis-based Community Health Network agreed to pay the federal government $345 million following allegations that it knowingly submitted Medicare claims for services that were referred in violation of the Stark law.
The payment resolves allegations from the Justice Department that Community Health Network compensated its breast surgeons, cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, neurosurgeons and vascular surgeons at above fair market value.
Additionally, two Dallas-based organizations — Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group — were accused in December of violating Stark law when they allegedly paid a cardiologist almost $4.9 million in incentive compensation.