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    ‘Open Payments’: Has CMS gone too far?

    Disclosure program could adversely affect physician education

    WashingtonI’ve been writing this column for Urology Times since the 1980s, and I’ve generally refrained from offering opinions or editorializing about legislation or regulatory developments affecting urologists. So I hope that longevity, at least, will allow me to stray from the path just a little this time.

    “Open Payments,” also known as the Sunshine Act, is an Affordable Care Act program designed to inform the public about possible financial relationships or influences between drug and device manufacturers and health care providers.

    As a consumer, that’s a good thing. Do I want my doctor giving me advice or recommending a drug or procedure because he has a sweetheart deal with a drug or device manufacturer? Of course not. But do I care if he gets a pen worth more than $10 from some drug company? Come on.

    For docs, program starts March 31

    As all too often is the case, the feds can’t just stop with implementing the law in a common sense way; they seem to take it to an extreme. Such is the case with this program, which is already requiring drug and device companies and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to do some heavy-duty paperwork, and as of March 31, will begin to directly affect physicians.

    “We view this program as a national resource for beneficiaries, consumers, and providers to know more about the relationships among physicians, teaching hospitals, and industry,” the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said in an online fact sheet for physicians.

    OK. Good.

    Under the program, manufacturers and applicable GPOs are required to report to CMS:

    • payments and other transfers of value of covered drugs, devices, biologics, or medical supplies to physicians and teaching hospitals

    • payments and other transfers of value to physician owners/investors

    • ownership or investments held by physicians or their immediate family in manufacturers and GPOs.

    While CMS points out that physicians are not required to register with or send information to Open Payments, they have yet another administrative responsibility to deal with if they want to avoid getting slammed by inaccurate information reported to CMS and posted on a special website that will be available to consumers.

    Bob Gatty
    Bob Gatty, a former congressional aide, covers news from Washington for Urology Times.


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