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An amendment to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989, known as the Stark Amendment, makes it unlawful for any physician to refer a patient for medical care at a facility in which the doctor has a financial interest. The same is true in a clinical laboratory setting, in that a doctor may not make a referral to that laboratory for services if he or she has a financial interest in that laboratory. The definition of financial interest includes ownership, investment, or compensation.
The Stark Amendment was further clarified in December 2007 to specifically provide that a physician “stands in the shoes” of his or her group practice in determining whether Stark covers the doctor’s relationship with another entity. Thus, an agreement with a physicians’ group creates a direct compensation agreement with each physician for purposes of Stark violations.
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