Friday, August 15, 2014

Deadline Extended as CMS Restores Access to Sunshine-Act Verification System

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has ended the temporary suspension of access to its new database, Open Payments, that keeps track of payments and gifts physicians receive from the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries. The database allows physicians who have registered with CMS to verify the accuracy of the information that these industries have reported. Because of the suspension, the deadline for physicians to dispute 2013 data in Open Payments has been extended from August 27 to September 8. The public website will still be launched September 30 as planned.

The reporting system was established through the Physician Payments Sunshine Act as required by the Affordable Care Act to give the public information about possible relationships between their physicians and industry.

CMS said in a statement earlier today, "A full 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 (NPI), for physicians with the same last and first names. This erroneously linked physician data in the Open Payments system."

CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Program Integrity Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., 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 record before the deadline and before the data are posted publically to identify any discrepancies."

The suspension went into effect August 3 after problems with the system were reported to and published by ProPublica, an independent news organization specializing on investigative, public-interest journalism.

If they have not done so already, APA members are advised to register on the Open Payments site and review their data as soon as possible. Information on the three-step verification and registration process is posted on APA's website. Read more about the terms and requirements of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act in Psychiatric News.

(image: Juergen Faelchle/shutterstock)


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