By Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of Center for Program Integrity
By now, you may have heard about the Open Payments program (previously known as the Sunshine Act) and wondered what it is and what it means for you. This program offers patients the opportunity to know if their doctors have a financial relationship with companies that make or supply medicines, medical supplies or devices, and the biological products used in their care. Disclosure of these relationships will allow patients to be more informed health care consumers.
In this first year of the Open Payments program, health care manufacturing companies and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) will report the financial interactions they had with physicians and teaching hospitals in the last five months of 2013. These payments could include things like compensation for meals, travel, gifts, consulting, and research and are reported to CMS by industry companies. We are already encouraged by the high rate of preliminary industry data submission and expect a similarly high level of industry engagement when detailed data submission starts on Sunday, June 1. The submission period ends at the close of business Monday, June 30.
CMS is taking steps to ensure that information made public is accurate and has engaged stakeholders as pilot users to ensure that reporting systems are user-friendly and performing properly. Physicians and teaching hospitals will be able to review data submitted by the manufacturers and GPOs, and if needed, they should report and dispute inaccuracies before the data is included in the public database. They can review the information submitted about them by registering in our Enterprise Portal starting June 1, 2014. Then, in July, physicians and teaching hospitals can begin to register in the Open Payments system. Those registered will be notified when data has been submitted about them, allowing them to review and dispute data submitted by health care manufacturing companies and GPOs prior to public data posting.
This voluntary review and dispute period for physicians and teaching hospitals will be available for 45 days. We strongly encourage physicians and teaching hospitals to register in our Enterprise Portal and Open Payments systems so they can review the data. Any data that is disputed but not corrected by industry before the dispute resolution period closes will remain public and will be marked as disputed.
We’re committed to health data transparency that the Open Payments program provides. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, this fall, we’ll have this powerful new tool that offers consumers additional information to make choices about their health care. Every year CMS will continue to release financial relationship information between health care providers and the industry as it becomes available about the prior year (e.g. by June 30, 2015 for 2014 data). Learn more at http://go.cms.gov/openpayments.