Stark: No new self-referral legislation coming

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There seems to be no additional legislation on the horizon that would target physician self-referral, said Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. Stark spoke to an assembly at the ACR Council at the 84th ACR Annual Meeting and Chapter Leadership Conference, according to an American College of Radiology article.

"[I am] not sure there should be a Stark III," he said. "Lawyers keep finding loopholes and more loopholes in these laws. Stark III would just probably create even more loopholes."

Stark was asked about the best approach in addressing unethical practices by doctors, which includes self-referral, to which he replied, "You're asking Congress to legislate morality? Not a good idea."

He seemed equally unsure about whether he would support efforts to halt the cuts contained in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 which went into effect in January. Several pieces of legislation have been introduced to put this halt in action, including the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2007. Would he support this, someone in the assembly asked. "Honestly, I don't know," he said. "…we are in the pay-as-you-go mode. Legislation is not being passed unless there is a way to pay for it. So that limits what can be passed."

Stark also supports behind efforts to instate accreditation for imaging providers to guarantee that studies performed are safe and appropriate.