'Sunshine Act' Gets Guarded Reaction

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 6, 2013

The "National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments"—was mandated under the Affordable Care Act to improve transparency in the healthcare market. The final rule was scheduled to be published 15 months ago and federal officials this week offered no explanation for the late issue, which comes three months after the November election.

"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," Peter Budetti, MD, deputy administrator for Program Integrity at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a media release. "Disclosure of these relationships allows patients to have more informed discussions with their doctors."

'Sunshine Act' Final Rule

'Sunshine Act' Final Rule

The rule requires makers of drugs, devices, medical supplies, and biotech firms covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program to disclose payments or other "transfers of value" to doctors and teaching hospitals.

It also requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to disclose to CMS physician ownership or investment interests. CMS will post the data on a public website next year.  Budetti says more transparency will reduce the potential for conflicts of interest that physicians or teaching hospitals face because of their relationships with manufacturers.

Data collection will begin on Aug. 1, 2013. Manufacturers and GPOs will report the data for August through December of 2013 to CMS by March 31, 2014 and CMS will make the data public by Sept. 30, 2014.

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