Forum Session

The Ethics in Patient Referrals Act: The Stark Law and the Practice of Medicine
December 14, 2007


Laura A. Dummit


The Ethics in Patient Referrals Act was intended to stop physician referrals motivated by financial gain by restricting physician ownership of certain types of facilities. Although the so-called Stark law was passed over 15 years ago, Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) continue to struggle with the boundaries of the legislation. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has urged CMS to strengthen several provisions to further restrict physician self-referrals, while others have argued for changes to allow for new developments in health care. This Forum session addressed how the law has been modified, how the opportunities for self-referral have changed, and whether this new context requires rethinking the ethics of self-referral.


Hoangmai H. Pham, MD, Senior Health Researcher, Center for Studying Health Systems Change; Vicki Robinson, JD, Chief, Industry Guidance Branch, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; William Rich, III, MD, Medical Director of Health Policy, American Academy of Ophthalmology

Slides from the presentations by Dr. Pham, Ms. Robinson, and Ms. Dummit are also available for download.

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