Welcome to StarkAnswers.com
I’m Alan Rumph, and welcome to StarkAnswers.com. That’s me on the left above, and on the right is Congressman Fortney “Pete” Stark of California. (After 40 years in office, Congressman Stark lost his seat in the 2012 election.) Congressman Stark was the principal sponsor of the federal physician self-referral law, commonly known as the Stark Law. The Stark Law prohibits a physician from “referring” certain Medicare “designated health services” to an “entity” with which the physician has a “financial relationship,” unless a specific exception applies. These seemingly simple concepts, and what on its face may appear to be a comprehensible statute, have spawned perhaps more confusion than any words in federal health care law.
Confusion is rarely a good thing, and, as discussed at Why StarkAnswers, it’s particularly unfortunate in the case of Stark—meaning the law, not the man. In fact, Stark the man once said that, had he known where his law would ultimately lead, he never would have proposed it. Yet the law, and its voluminous and often byzantine interpretations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is a fact of life for health care providers. To anyone who has wrestled earnestly with Stark’s details, it often seems that there are no answers to many common Stark questions.
The focus of StarkAnswers.com is to disprove that proposition—or at least to highlight some of its exceptions. There often are answers to seemingly intractable Stark issues. Perhaps not answers in the sense of clear authoritative statements, although a careful reading of the many preamble explanations to CMS’s rulemakings may yield a surprising number of definitive answers. Instead, answers must often be refined from such a painstaking mining of the preamble raw materials, combined with a creative, gestalt analysis of the overriding statutory and regulatory scheme. Those types of answers are the ones that most interest me, and thus will be the focus of this site.
StarkAnswers.com will also explore related health care compliance topics, such as issues arising under the Anti-Markup Rule, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and other fraud and abuse laws and regulations. In addition to some links and other Resources, I will present from time to time issues that strike my fancy on the Blog. Although I have ample fodder for these pages from my decade-plus obsession with Stark (the law) and related authorities, hopefully this site will not be a monograph. I thus particularly invite others to submit questions or observations through the Contact page. (I will not present on the site any item sent to me without explicit permission from the sender.) My hope is the site will grow organically from this process, and it will be a meaningful learning experience for host as well as audience.
I assume it goes without saying, but the lawyer in me forces me to say it: STARKANSWERS.COM PRESENTS ISSUES SOLELY FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. NOTHING APPEARING HEREIN CONSTITUTES LEGAL ADVICE. ALL PARTIES SHOULD CONSULT WITH A COMPETENT ATTORNEY WITH RESPECT TO ANY ISSUE ARISING OUT OF THE STARK LAW OR ANY OTHER LEGAL AUTHORITY.
© 2011 by Alan Rumph and StarkAnswers.com. All rights reserved.