Why Does the Stark Law Matter?
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If you know about a hospital, lab, or skilled nursing facility that is paying doctors to send it business, you are not alone. The Wall Street Journal says: “Self-referral has become common practice among many U.S. physician groups, which refer anything from lab services to MRIs to entities from which they benefit financially.”
Fed up with bribery in the medical field, Congress passed the Stark Law back in the 1990’s. If you’re fed up, too, ask our Atlanta Stark Law attorney at The Wallace Law Firm, LLC about whether you are eligible to file a whistleblower lawsuit. Whistleblowers get the satisfaction of stopping fraud, and receive between 15% and 30% of what the Government recovers thanks to their work. Lee Wallace of our firm represents whistleblowers like you who are committed to stopping fraud.
We provide FREE consultations so you can learn more about your case at no cost.
Patients Feel Their Trust Has Been Violated
Trust is at the heart of every doctor-patient relationship:
- You trust your doctor enough to tell him about your private health matters.
- You trust your doctor to give you the best treatment he can.
- You trust your doctor to refer you to the hospital, rehab facility, home health agency, etc., that he is convinced is the best one to help you.
But what if the doctor violates your trust? What if you find out that he has a side deal with the hospital he refers you to? Maybe he gets paid money by that hospital when he refers them patients — like, say, you. Or, he may have a cushy, hardly-work job at the hospital. The hospital may hire his family members, or give him business or personal benefits that make his business more profitable. The doctor has violated the trust you placed in him, and now you don’t know whether he picked that healthcare facility because he thought it was the best for you — or him.
When the relationship between the hospital and the doctor gets a little too cozy, the patient has a right to wonder whether the doctor is making medical decisions that are in the best interests of the patient. How can a patient trust a doctor who refers the patient to a hospital that pays the doctor?
If you have information that a hospital, home health agency, etc., has found a back door way to pay doctors to make referrals, you can make a difference by filing suit as a whistleblower.
Healthcare Costs Increase
The Stark Law matters because it tried to fight a very insidious erosion of the foundation of the trust between a doctor and patient. But the Stark Law also matters because patients and the American taxpayers wind up footing the bill for the bribery.
When hospitals and health care agencies bribe physicians to send them business, those costs wend their way back into the system. Medicare and Medicaid use the costs incurred by healthcare providers to set rates for medical procedures. Once one hospital starts bribing doctors to get their referrals, other hospitals become convinced they cannot compete unless they also bribe doctors. The hospitals’ costs of delivering healthcare spiral upward, and ultimately Medicare and Medicaid — and taxpayers — become the big losers.
To find out more about how you can blow the whistle on Stark Law fraud, contact The Wallace Law Firm today.