Healthcare providers will have another two months to comment on proposed regulations that will implement a 1993 physician self-referral law, said HCFA Administrator Nancy-Ann Min DeParle.
DeParle, who spoke at the American Medical Association's national leadership meeting last week in Washington, said the complexity of the "Stark II" regulations necessitated extending the comment period another 60 days. Many provider groups had requested an extension.
The 69-page proposed regulations, published Jan. 9 in the Federal Register, originally called for the comment period to expire March 10 (Jan. 12, p. 6). It now will end May 11.
The law, named after its sponsor, Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), bans physicians from referring Medicare patients to 11 types of healthcare services or facilities in which the doctors have an ownership interest (See story, p. 86).
Congress, meanwhile, soon could consider some revisions of the law, said Rep. William Thomas (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee.
An aide said Stark believes the regulation is too complex in its effort to define what constitutes illegal compensation to a physician in return for referrals. The aide said Stark wants to apply a more simple standard in which compensation that meets a "fair-market value" test would be exempt from prosecution.