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April 02, 2020

CMS Issues Stark Waivers For Care of COVID-19 Patients

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on March 30,CMS issued a blanket waiver of certain provisions of the physician self-referral (Stark) law pursuant to its authority under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act. The waiver, which is retroactive to March 1, eases or eliminates requirements for referrals that are solely related to COVID-19 purposes. COVID-19 purposes include diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, provision of services by certain healthcare personnel in response to COVID-19, and addressing certain disruptions in business relationships. Absent cases of fraud and abuse, CMS will not impose penalties under Stark for certain types of non-compliance, including: remuneration that in some instances is inconsistent with fair market value; remuneration in excess of limits on non-monetary compensation or incidental benefits to medical staff; and referrals to entities in which the referring physician has an ownership or investment interest. In addition to other actions taken by CMS, this waiver expands facility and provider ability to respond quickly and ensure that COVID-19 patients receive the treatment they need without delay.