Certain joint venture arrangements between physicians and hospitals may be illegal as of today. This is the day when changes to federal physician self-referral rules—Stark law—that limit specific financial relationships take effect.
You or someone at your practice should already know this—implementation of some components was delayed for a year when providers complained to CMS that they needed more time to restructure, or, in some cases eliminate, certain arrangements. If you weren't aware of the changes, stop reading right now and start reviewing your contracts.
Arrangements that will be affected include:
The new rules aren't drastically different—for the most part CMS was simply closing loopholes or expanding existing restrictions. But many physicians aren't happy with the changes. The American College of Cardiology and the American Medical Association have sent various letters to CMS asking the agency to alter the rules or at least delay implementation further.
While the rules don't outright restrict joint ventures and partnerships, they add to the administrative and regulatory hoops that physicians must jump through before they can partner with a hospital or just run a business.
Are the self-referral laws too restrictive? Many physicians would probably say yes.