Former HHS leaders: Stark and anti-kickback laws 'harm the very patients they are supposed to protect'

The Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law were initially created to prevent self-dealing and fraud in the healthcare industry. However, these laws were designed in a fee-for-service model and now serve as a barrier to value-based arrangements, two former HHS secretaries wrote in an op-ed in The Hill.

Kathleen Sebelius and Tommy G. Thompson argue that Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute need to be modernized because the laws are standing in the way of quality improvements. For example, they claim hospitals are reluctant to reward physicians for following best practices designed to improve outcomes because the reward could be viewed as an inducement under the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law.

"Adding to the challenge of moving from volume to value is the fact that these laws often overlap one another, yet have different interpretations, centers of authority, and requirements," the former HHS secretaries wrote. "Stark and anti-kickback laws are a remnant of the fee-for-service world and harm the very patients they are supposed to protect by deterring more comprehensive patient-centered, coordinated care."

Ms. Sebelius and Mr. Thompson said these laws need new value-based exceptions and safe harbors that promote the shift from fee-for-service to value-based care.

Read the full op-ed here.

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