COVID-19 could also affect how CMS and OIG finalize the proposed rules because the agencies are considering alternative versions of some proposed policies. "Some of those (policies) may be more liberal than others," Romano said. "It's possible that the COVID crisis is going to inform which of those choices the agencies settle on."
For example, the in-office ancillary services exception is the most important exception under the Stark Law because it requires that a service be performed in a specific place called "the same building" or "centralized building."
"With the move toward more telehealth … CMS might get to the point where it has a more liberal interpretation of the location requirement, but it can only bend it around the edges because that's a statutory requirement," Romano said.