Shalala stalls safe harbors release

March 10, 1993

A set of 10 proposed safe harbors scheduled for publication inthe Federal Register have been withdrawn for further review byDr. Donna Shalala, secretary of the Department of Health and HumanServices. The Office of Management and Budget favorably

A set of 10 proposed safe harbors scheduled for publication inthe Federal Register have been withdrawn for further review byDr. Donna Shalala, secretary of the Department of Health and HumanServices.

The Office of Management and Budget favorably reviewed therules in January. But after assuming her new post, Shalala askedthat the regulations be withdrawn, according to Judy Holtz, pressliaison at the Office of the Inspector General.

The new rules were delivered to the Federal Register January19 but pulled three days later, pending scrutiny by Shalala andnew OMB staffers, Holtz said. The OIG has sent a memo to Shalalaurging action on the proposed rules.

"With everything else they have to review, it could besix weeks or several months before the rules are released,"she said.

The proposed safe harbors cover investment interests in ruralareas, ambulatory surgical centers and group practices composedexclusively of active investors. They also deal with practitionerrecruitment, referral agreements for specialty services and purchaseof group practices, among other arrangements.

The safe harbors are also expected to address the extensionof practice issues for physician investors, a key to managingself-referral abuses, according to Thomas Greeson, internal legalcounsel for the American College of Radiology (SCAN 1/27/93).

"We think these safe harbors will be addressing issuesrelated to extension of practice, as well as questions about referralswithin multispecialty practices," he said. "We havegreat interest in seeing how these rules are developed."