The Stark law issues physicians are eyeing

Four physicians joined Becker's to discuss the Stark law trends they are eyeing. 

Editor's note: These responses were edited lightly for brevity and clarity. 

Frank DiMaio, MD. Director of Catholic Health Physician Partners (Garden City, N.Y.): Durable medical equipment fraud continues in some centers.

Lawrence Kaplan, MD. Associate Dean at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (Philadelphia):  Since I don't have ownership in anything I don't think about it all. I also think I practice patient-centered care, so any referral would be based on what a patient wants/expects. The answer might be different if it was procedure-based and referring to outpatient surgery/GI centers that I was a part owner in, but even for folks in those disciplines, the startup costs to "buy into" that type of practice is formidable, and not something that many, if any, physicians could afford.

Zoher Ghogawala, MD. Neurosurgeon at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (Burlington, Mass.): I think the most important issue for spine surgeons is whether referring patients to practice-owned MRI and physical therapy is a violation of Stark law or not.

Joseph Sewards, MD. Chair of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at Temple University (Philadelphia): I think the recent exemption in the Stark law for health systems and hospitals to be able to provide mental health services to physicians is what I have my eye on. I don’t know of any hospital that was withholding those essential services for fear of violating Stark, but anything that removes any barriers to access mental health services for physicians is a huge step. There already are enough barriers out there, and physician burnout and other signs of deteriorating mental health/wellness is getting to be a problem that is quickly getting out of control.

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