Bucshon, Burgess praise HHS proposed rulemaking

U.S. Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and Michael Burgess (R-TX), who are both certified medical doctors, recently applauded proposed changes by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to update safe harbor regulations.

“This announcement is great news for patients and doctors,” Rep. Burgess said. “The proposed rule allows for more patient-centered care and is a step in the right direction to letting doctors be doctors.”

Specifically, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking entitled, Revisions to the Safe Harbors Under the Anti-Kickback Statute and Civil Monetary Penalty Rules Regarding Beneficiary Inducements. The proposal is part of HHS’s Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care, which aims to reduce regulatory barriers and hasten the transformation of the healthcare system into one that better pays for value and promotes care coordination, according to an OIG fact sheet.

Rep. Bucshon noted that the proposed regulatory changes to the Medicare physician self-referral law, commonly known as the Stark Law, and the federal Anti-Kickback Statute regulations would enable increased physician coordination that leads to better and more affordable care for patients.

Rep. Bucshon called the Stark Law “a dated regulatory structure – designed for a fee-for-service payment model – that has inhibited value-based care and coordinated care arrangements that many physicians are eager to take advantage of in order to provide better and more efficient care for their patients.”

OIG said that the proposed safe harbors also include multiple proposed safeguards to protect against fraud and abuse.

“… CMS’ proposal to modernize the Stark Law will remove legal barriers that currently prevent physicians from entering into coordinated care and innovative payment models that can lead to better outcomes for patients while also keeping costs down,” Rep. Bucshon said.

Rep. Burgess agreed, adding that the proposed rule also “will enable physicians and other health care providers to better coordinate care and let patients focus on their health, resulting in improved health outcomes.”

“While this proposal will provide greater certainty for physicians participating in value-based arrangements and providing coordinated care for patients,” said Rep. Burgess, “it will also add protections under the anti-kickback statute and civil monetary penalty law.”

OIG will take comments on the proposal once it is published in the Federal Register.