Groups Ask CMS To Exempt Indirect Payment Disclosure in Database

September 15, 2014 in News

A coalition of patient advocacy groups led by the National Health Council is asking CMS to exempt medical device and pharmaceutical companies from reporting indirect physician payments under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, Modern Healthcare ‘s “Vital Signs”  reports (Lee, “Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/12).


The Open Payments System, which is required under the Affordable Care Act’s Sunshine Act, aims to boost transparency by making public what payments health care providers have received from drugmakers and medical device manufactures. CMS said in August that about one-third of CMS Open Payments Systems records will be withheld when the system launches because of data inconsistencies.

In August, the American Medical Association and more than 100 other medical professional groups in a letter asked CMS to delay the launch of the database by six months, expressing concern that the database “will not be ready and will likely lead to the release of inaccurate, misleading and false information” (iHealthBeat, 8/29).

However, CMS officials say the database’s launch is on schedule for Sept. 30, (Luthra, Kaiser Health News/MedPage Today, 9/11).

Letter Details

In a letter, 64 organizations urged CMS to exempt the reporting of indirect physician payments made through voluntary health agencies (NHC letter, 9/10).

Specifically, the groups are seeking exemptions in cases where manufacturers give a voluntary health agency complete discretion in selecting recipients for funding.

Voluntary health agencies support research programs and continuing medical education with funding that comes from multiple sources, including manufacturers of health care products. Without an exemption, voluntary health agencies would need to specify who receives funding and from which specific organization they received it (Villacorta, “Politico Pulse,” Politico, 9/12).

NHC Spokesperson Nancy Hughes said that requiring patient groups to link manufacturers’ funding to a single physician is an “administrative burden” because “[t]rying to identify specific dollars to specific physicians is very difficult” (“Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 9/12).

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