CMS: Sunshine Act data collection to begin August 1

February 1, 2013

Data collection will begin this August, with reporting to begin in September 2014 for a new rule aimed at increasing financial transparency in the healthcare industry, says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Your patients will have a clearer picture of the financial relationships between you and drug or device manufacturers starting this summer, thanks to a newly enacted provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA’s Physician Payment Sunshine Act is aimed at increasing the financial transparency within the healthcare industry. Also dubbed the “National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments,” this program-announced today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS)-is just a first step in the ACA’s overall plan for greater transparency.

“You should know when your doctor has a financial relationship with the companies that manufacture or supply the medicines or medical devices you may need,” says Peter Budetti, MD, CMS deputy administrator for program integrity. “Disclosure of these relationships allows patients to have more informed discussions with their doctors.”

CMS said it will begin collecting data from device and drug manufacturers on August 1 and will release the data on a public Web site starting on September 30, 2014. The agency is creating an electronic reporting system to facilitate the process, according to CMS.

Efforts to increase transparency are intended to reduce potential conflicts of interest that physicians or teaching hospitals could face as a result of their relationships with certain manufacturers, the agency said. Manufacturers, as well as physicians and hospitals, will be allowed 45 days to review and correct the data collected by CMS before it is released to the public, the agency says.

The rule applies to any group purchasing organization or manufacturer of drugs, devices, biologicals, or medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In addition to payments, the ACA mandates that drug and device manufacturers report any gifts, consulting fees, research activities, speaking fees, meals, or travel offered to healthcare providers. The rule does not require manufacturers to report ownership of investment interests held by teaching hospital, CMS adds.

Violations of the new rule are punishable by an annual maximum of $150,000 for failure to report and $1 million for knowing failure to report.

The American Medical Association (AMA) plans to carefully review the final rule, says AMA President Jeremy Lazarus, MD.

“Physicians’ relationships with the pharmaceutical industry should be transparent and focused on benefits to patients," he added. "Our feedback during this rulemaking process was aimed at ensuring the new registry will provide a meaningful picture of physician-industry interactions and give physicians an easy way to correct any inaccuracies. As the rule is implemented, we will work to make sure physicians have up-to-date information about the new reporting process."

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