Law Sheds Light on Industry Payments to Physicians

Later this year under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make public physician payments reported by manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, and biologicals that participate in federal health care programs.

The law, which took effect Aug. 1, 2013, is part of the Affordable Care Act and requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to report ownership interests held by physicians and their immediate family members.

On Feb. 18, CMS opened payments registration and data submission for applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations for the 2013 reporting year. 

The American Medical Association anticipates that between June and August, CMS will launch an online portal where physicians can sign up to be notified when their financial disclosures are available for review and correction. At that time, physicians can review their reports and challenge them if they are false, inaccurate, or misleading. CMS says it will provide physicians access to their consolidated financial disclosures for the prior calendar year. According to AMA, CMS will release most of the data on a public website by September.

AMA's online toolkit features a webinar on preparing for the Sunshine Act, an overview of the financial interactions and ownership interests that will be reported, an explanation of the excluded financial interactions, answers to frequently asked questions, and a summary of the act's key provisions. 

AMA advises physicians to: 

  • Ensure all financial and conflict-of-interest disclosures required by employers and other entities that provide funding are current and updated regularly; 
  • Update professional information and ensure the correct specialty designation; 
  • Learn what financial transfers and ownership interests must be reported by drug and device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations; and 
  • Ask industry contacts to provide transfer information in advance for an opportunity to correct the information before it's transmitted to the government. 

The Open Payments Mobile for Physicians app allows you to capture and confidentially collect information on reportable transfers between you and industry representatives. This information comes in handy should you need to challenge any inaccurate information reported to the government. Download the app on your Apple or Android device.

Note: The Sunshine Act stipulates payments or other transfers of value provided as compensation for speaking at a continuing medical education (CME) program are not required to be reported if the following conditions are met: 

  • The activity meets the requirements of the continuing education accrediting agency, e.g., the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education; 
  • The pharmaceutical or device company does not pay the speaker directly; and 
  • The pharmaceutical or device company does not choose the speaker or give the CME provider a group of speakers to consider for the activity.  

Most of the information contained in the reports will be available on a public, searchable website.

Action, May 2, 2014

Last Updated On

April 17, 2018

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