On the Precipice of a Major Stride in Healthcare Progress
It actually seems elementary when you think about it. To deliver the best possible and most cost-efficient care to patients, particularly those with complex chronic conditions, it is essential for all aspects of the healthcare system – primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, pharmacies, and others – to work together to coordinate patient care and deliver comprehensive treatment.
Currently, however, our federal laws and regulations prevent that type of patient-centered collaboration. Measures known as the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute were created in the era of fee-for-service medicine to prevent bad actors from acting in ways adverse to a patient’s interests in order to gain some sort of financial benefit. In our current transition to holistic value-based care, though, these fraud and abuse safeguards are serving as daunting legal barriers to the kind of working relationships that deliver optimal health outcomes.
We are hopeful this is on the verge of changing. The Department of Health and Human Services has developed, with extensive public input, new rules to modernize these outdated laws and regulations and create opportunities for healthcare professionals and organizations to collaborate without fear of legal reprisal. There will still be more than adequate protections against fraud and abuse, but the obstacles to patient-centered, value-based care will be significantly alleviated.
These new rules were submitted by HHS to the Office of Management and Budget for final review and approval last month. The Healthcare Leadership Council is one of more than 120 healthcare companies, associations, and patient advocacy groups that has asked President Trump to intervene and bring this critical work across the regulatory finish line.
As the letter to the president puts it, with the finalization of these rules “victory can be claimed in the name of helping get better coordinated care and reducing overall healthcare costs.” We don’t see any reason to wait to begin reaping these benefits.