Doctors Using CMS’ Open Payments Site Report Long Waits, Errors

July 22, 2014 in News

Physicians are reporting long wait times and error messages when trying to access a secure CMS database to review and verify disclosure reports of payments made to health care providers, ProPublica reports (Ornstein, ProPublica, 7/21).

Background

In February 2013, CMS released a long-awaited final rule on the Physician Payment Sunshine Act — also known as the OPEN PAYMENTS system — and outlined a timeline for its implementation.

The Sunshine Act requires medical industry companies to disclose consulting fees, travel reimbursements, research grants and other gifts that they give to physicians and teaching hospitals.

As of August 2013, manufacturers of pharmaceutical and biological drugs, medical devices and medical supplies have been required to report all transfers of monetary value over $10 to physicians and teaching hospitals.

All data collected from August 2013 through December 2013 had to be reported to CMS by March 31, 2014, according to the final rule. The final rule then calls for physicians to be given a 45-day “review and correction” period to ensure the accuracy of any disclosures to CMS.

The federal government plans to publicly release the online database of payments in September in an effort to promote transparency (iHealthBeat, 7/10).

Details of Site Issues

The government last week began allowing physicians to log on to the site and review disclosures on themselves and report inaccuracies.

However, some physicians reported problems using site, including:

  • Long wait times for identity verification and login processes; and
  • Ambiguous error messages that make it unclear whether there are any reports for a doctor (Viebeck, The Hill, 7/21).

In response, CMS spokesperson Aaron Albright said the error messages clearly state that there are no results for the physician, indicating that there are no payment reports available (ProPublica, 7/21).

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