In a letter this week, HITRUST asked the Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander to consider an exemption to the Stark Law for the donation or subsidization of security software.
HITRUST asserted that healthcare entities, particularly doctors’ offices, are often poorly prepared to defend themselves from hackers. But if they could receive help from larger hospital systems, that could change.
“Small, ill-equipped practices are vulnerable to security breaches, which can ultimately infiltrate the larger healthcare environment through the exchange of patient data,” wrote Dan Nutkis, chief executive of HITRUST. “Again, we need to empower physician practices to actively manage their security posture, not hinder them.”
It should be noted, however, that such help, in the form of software or other technology and management help, could be misinterpreted as a kickback under the Stark Law, which aims to prevent referrals between doctors who have a business relationship.
The Stark Law governs physician self-referral for Medicare and Medicaid patients and serves as a stringent barrier against fraud and abuse amongst healthcare providers.