Budget Would Limit “In-Office” Ancillary Service Exception to Stark Law
President Obama’s 2014 proposed budget proposes to limit the types of ancillary services that physicians can provide in their offices. Physician practices rely on the “in-office ancillary service” exception to the Stark Law to permit certain designated health services that are performed in their offices to be billed to governmental health programs. The Obama budget proposes the possible elimination of certain types of services from protection under that exception, including physical therapy, radiation therapy, and advanced imaging services, from the list of services that can be provided in a physician’s office and billed without violating Stark Law.
The budget proposal suggests that physicians may be permitted to continue to provide these services in their offices if certain “accountability criteria” are met. The contents of the accountability standards are not well defined. Presumably, the standards would dictate standards for medical necessity or appropriateness. Whatever the standards require, it appears that the judgment of physicians would be further regulated by these requirements if they are passed into law.
Physicians who provide these types of services in their offices should monitor the course of budget legislation as they plan the future of this line of their business.