Physician self-referral to facilities in which they have a financial interest harms patients and communities.
For decades, the Ethics in Patient Referrals Act ("Stark Law") has protected the Medicare program from the inherent conflict of interest created when physicians self-referral their patients to facilities and services in which they have a financial stake. But the Stark Law’s "whole hospital" exception permitted physicians to refer patients to those hospitals where they had an ownership interest in the entire facility rather than just in a subdivision, such as imaging or surgery.
In 2010, Congress closed the "whole hospital" exception loophole, except for grandfathered hospitals. Now, some members of Congress propose eliminating Medicare’s prohibition on physician self-referral to new physician-owned hospitals and current restrictions on the growth of grandfathered hospitals.
This webpage offers resources explaining why the AHA supports preserving the ban on physician self-referrals to new physician-owned hospitals and retaining restrictions on the growth of existing physician-owned hospitals.