HHS Issues Rule on Physician Self-Referrals

HHS Issues Rule on Physician Self-Referrals – Health and Human Services

Rosemarie Sweeney

Outgoing Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Donna Shalala announced final regulations regarding self-referrals by physicians. The regulations will protect beneficiaries and taxpayers from potentially abusive referral patterns, while making it easier for physicians to comply with the law. The law will prohibit a physician from referring Medicare patients for certain health care services to entities with which the physician has a financial relationship. The law permits a number of exceptions. “We’ve taken a common-sense approach to the law to prevent potentially abusive referrals while recognizing many legitimate business practices and financial arrangements,” Shalala said. “Physicians should be able to structure their business arrangements to comply with the law, while continuing to provide high-quality health care to beneficiaries.” The rule will become effective in January 2002.

COPYRIGHT 2001 American Academy of Family Physicians

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