AMA, Provider Groups Seek To Delay Physician Payment Database

August 6, 2014 in News

On Tuesday, the American Medical Association and more than 100 other medical professional groups sent a letter to CMS asking the agency to delay the launch of the Open Payment System under the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act, The Hill reports (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 8/5).

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 also called 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.

In late July, CMS began allowing physicians to log on to the site and review disclosures on themselves and report inaccuracies (iHealthBeat, 8/5).

The database has come under criticism after findings from a ProPublica investigation and other media reports discovered mistakes in the information that could undermine a health care providers’ professional reputation, such as incorrectly listing drugmaker payments, The Hill reports.

Letter Details

In the letter, the medical groups write that while many of them “supported passage of the Sunshine Act and, fundamentally … have no issue with efforts to increase transparency in the interactions between physicians and industry,” they “have a number of serious concerns regarding how the Open Payment System has been implemented.”

The groups acknowledge that medical providers are given time to review the data and submit corrections before the database launches,  but they write that “an overly complex registration process which, combined with the condensed timeframe, makes the task of reviewing and disputing reports by August 27 effectively impossible for [CMS'] estimated 224,000 covered physician recipients.” 

They asked the agency to move the launch date to March 31, 2015, noting that “without minimally a six month period to upload the data, process registrations, generate aggregated individualized reports and manage the dispute communications and updates,” the database “will not be ready and will likely lead to the release of inaccurate, misleading and false information.”

In addition, the medical groups in the letter also asked CMS to relax requirements on how physicians report continuing education sponsorship unless directly paid for by a drugmaker or device manufacturer (The Hill, 8/5).

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