One of the casualties from last week's congressional elections is a familiar face in the healthcare industry: Rep. Pete Stark, the California Democrat who currently serves as the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee's ranking member and is widely known for the three-part physician self-referral law that bears his name.
A longtime champion of a single-payer healthcare system, Stark—who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 8th, 9th and currently 13th district of California since 1973—was beaten by Eric Swalwell, a fellow Democrat, to represent the Golden State's 15th district. In the healthcare industry, Stark's influence largely stems from his work drafting legislation that governs physician self-referral in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The first phase prohibited physician self-referral for clinical lab services in Medicare starting in 1992, and additional phases became effective in 1994 and 2007, as the law eventually expanded to other healthcare services and also applied to Medicaid.
From 2007 to 2010, Stark served as the subcommittee's chairman. His departure now leaves open the health subcommittee ranking-member spot on the hugely influential panel that makes tax law.
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