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    ‘Open Payments’ moves forward despite snags

    Disclosures set to go public Jan. 1; AUA, others call for delay

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

    WashingtonPhysicians, including urologists, now have another headache to deal with—making certain information about them published on the Internet by the federal government is accurate and not misleading to patients who want to know about the financial benefits their doctors receive from manufacturers of drugs, devices, and biologic and medical supplies.

    Related - Report questions doc shortage; AUA concerned

    It’s all part of the National Physician Payment Transparency Program (Open Payments) established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires manufacturers to collect data on payments or items of value given to teaching hospitals and physicians. Manufacturers must also report certain ownership or investment interests by physicians or their immediate family members held at any point during the reporting year.

    The website containing the data reported by manufacturers was slated to go live on Sept. 30, when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would make public details about provider payments made from Aug. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2013. Physicians and teaching hospitals had until Sept. 8 to sign up, review their records, and dispute any discrepancy.

    Tech issues hamper program

    The Open Payments program has been plagued with delays and technical snafus. CMS took the system offline Aug. 3 to resolve a technical issue, and it was not restored until Aug. 15. According to CMS, an investigation into a physician complaint found that manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) submitted intermingled data, such as the wrong state license number or national provider identifier for physicians with the same last and first names.

    On Aug. 15, CMS said it has resolved the issue and revalidated all data to make sure physician identifiers used by the applicable manufacturer or GPOs are accurate. Incorrect payment transactions were removed and will not be published, CMS added.

    “We have identified the root cause of the problem and have instituted a system fix to prevent similar errors. We strongly encourage physicians to review their records before the deadline and before the data are posted publicly to identify any discrepancies,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Program Integrity.

    Going forward, the ACA requires manufacturers to report the information annually to CMS by June 30 of each year. So physicians who want to make sure the data about them is accurate must be vigilant and check it within CMS guidelines.

    According to CMS, physicians are not required to register with or send any information to Open Payments. However, to make sure CMS has correct information, physicians are encouraged to keep records of all payments and other transfers of value received from manufacturers or GPOs, register with the program, subscribe to its listserv, look at the applicable information, and work with manufacturers and GPOs to make sure the information submitted about them is correct. 


    Next: AUA, LUGPA send letter to CMS administrator

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


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