CMS Postpones Launch of Physician Payment Website Amid Concerns

August 9, 2014 in News

On Thursday, CMS said it will delay the public launch of its physician payment website for an unspecified amount of time in order to investigate a reported issue with the site, The Hill reports (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 8/7).

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 had planned to publicly release the online database of payments in September in an effort to promote transparency.

However, 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.

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 website’s launch (iHealthBeat, 8/6).

CMS Announcement

CMS released a statement saying that the database “has been taken offline temporarily to investigate a reported issue” and that physicians will not be able to review and dispute any potential errors until the website has been fixed.

The agency said that it would adjust its review and launch deadlines after the issue has been resolved, but it did not specify a time frame (The Hill, 8/7).

However, CMS in a response to the letter from the medical groups said that the agency “remains committed” to giving physicians a full 45 days to review the information and correct any errors (Frieden, “The Gupta Guide,” MedPage Today, 8/7).

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