Houston Stark Law Attorney

Health Law Compliance Representation in Texas and Across the Nation

For health-care providers, under provisions of the Stark Law, also known as the self-referral law, a doctor may not refer a Medicare or Medicaid patient to an entity in which the provider or an immediate family member has a financial interest for the provisions of designated health services (DHS).

If you are contemplating entering a transaction involving designated health care services, it is important to obtain experienced legal counsel. The lawyers of Hendershot Cowart P.C. provide knowledgeable legal counsel for health care professionals who are contemplating or entering into a transaction governed by the Stark Law.

Our Texas law firm handles health care law matters and serves the medical community in Houston and throughout the United States. Call (713) 909-7323 to discuss your specific issue.

Does the Stark Law Apply to My Organization?

The Stark Law Applies To Designated Health Care Providers. They Are:

  • Clinical laboratory services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Radiology services such as MRI, CT and ultrasound
  • Radiation therapy
  • Durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, catheters and other equipment
  • Prosthetics and orthotics
  • Home health services
  • Outpatient prescription drugs
  • Hospital services, including outpatient services

If you have questions about whether the Stark Law applies to you, we can help. Our attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience advising and representing health-care providers on compliance, Medicaid and Medicare fraud investigations, and other situations in which the Stark Law applies.

What Are the Exceptions to the Stark Law?

Before entering into any designated health care transaction that may fall under Stark, it is important to determine whether any of the available stark law exceptions apply, including:

  • Certain referrals to physicians in the same medical group
  • Certain transactions for in-office ancillary services
  • Certain referrals within prepaid health plans
  • Certain lease agreements
  • Certain personal service agreements
  • Physician employment agreements

Our law firm can advise you whether exceptions may apply to your transaction. We will explain the law, including examining the safe harbors and exemptions that are included in the law. We will help you set up designated health care service transactions that comply with Stark. If your health care organization is accused of violating the Stark Law, we can advise you and defend you in related administrative proceedings.

How Physicians Accidentally Violate the Stark Law

Physicians can accidentally violate the Stark Law because of the low degree of intent to commit fraud required for a violation. The Anti-Kickback Statute, for example, takes into account intent to commit fraud by purposefully referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to an affiliated clinic, then avoiding the anti-markup statutes when billing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Stark Law, however, does not recognize that a physician may not realize that a financial relationship exists. Under provisions of Stark, if the government can prove that the doctor will benefit financially from the referral for outside diagnostic or lab services, CMS will not be required to pay – regardless of innocent intent.

Don't Wait to See Whether the Attorney General Will Investigate

If you realize that you have inadvertently violated provisions of the Stark Law, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) makes it possible to negotiate a financial settlement that is typically substantially less than the total amount that may be required for full restitution. If the OAG investigates and discovers that you were aware of the financial relationship with the outside service provider, you will face full restitution, plus penalties and interest on the money repaid to the government.

Negotiating a fair settlement with the OAG requires knowledge of the Stark Law, extensive record keeping of timelines for referrals and payments, and a firm understanding of what the attorney general will accept. The health law team at Hendershot Cowart P.C. has decades of experience representing physicians and health-care providers in all areas of Medicare and Medicaid billing. Our Houston health law attorneys work aggressively with the OAG to negotiate the lowest repayments possible and fight aggressively to avoid criminal penalties stemming from anti-kickback and Stark Law violations.

Consult with a Texas health and medical law attorney at Hendershot Cowart P.C. today.

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