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Review Deadline Extended

Physicians have until Sept. 8 to review their financial data under the Sunshine Act

Until moments before press time, physicians had until Aug. 27, 2014, to review and correct reports about their financial interactions with manufacturers of drugs and medical devices, under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (also known as the Open Payments program). The information is due to be released to the public on Sept. 30. Now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that physicians and teaching hospitals have until Sept. 8 to review their records. The system was taken offline on Aug. 3 to resolve a technical issue.

To review and affirm or dispute your financial data, you must register with the CMS Enterprise Portal and with CMS’ Open Payments system and then log in and select the “Review and dispute” tab. Industry organizations either will correct disputed data, or mark the data as disputed when it is released to the public.

The American Medical Association and 112 specialty and state medical societies asked the CMS to postpone the release of physician financial data to March 31, 2015. The groups state that the Sunshine Act roll-out is suffering from a major lack of communication, a shortened timeline and a confusing registration process.

CMS repeatedly missed its own deadlines, resulting in registration delays for physicians who needed to access the reported data and in a truncated period in which they could review and dispute their data. Physicians were given a total of 45 days to review and dispute data.

The group also outlined additional concerns in a letter to CMS, including:

  • An overly complex registration process that is made up of more than 20 individual steps that require physicians to register over a period of several days to see their data.
  • The importance of maintaining the exclusion of continuing medical education data from reporting when the industry donor is unaware of the speakers and other participants before committing to fund the activity.
  • The need to exclude journal article reprints, medical textbooks and other services used to educate physicians because they have a direct benefit to patients. A specific exclusion in the Sunshine Act excludes materials that directly benefit patients.
  • The potential for industry organizations to unilaterally dismiss disputes initiated by physicians. CMS has not clarified previous guidance that said drug manufacturers could dismiss a dispute if they determined no change was necessary, without resolving the dispute with the initiating physician.

The AMA has also adopted a resolution to lobby Congress to amend the Sunshine Act to limit transfer of value reporting items with a value greater than $100.

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