Physician Sunshine Act Opens Your Practice to Scrutiny

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule in February requiring the reporting of payments made to physicians or teaching hospitals by applicable manufacturers of drugs, devices, biological, or medical supplies. The increased transparency reduces the potential for conflict of interest.

Bottom line? Beginning this summer, your peers and patients can easily learn if your providers accept gifts or payments from a drug or device manufacturer. Although such relationships are not assumed to be improper, they may raise questions regarding a provider’s independence or objective judgment.

The “Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Programs; Transparency Reports and Reporting of Physician Ownership or Investment Interests,” more commonly known as the Physician Sunshine Act, requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to report any ownership or investment relationships between the manufacture or GPO and physicians or physicians’ immediate family members.

Applicable manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations must begin to collect the required data on August 1, 2013 and report the data to CMS by March 31, 2014.

The new rule, a requirement of section 6002 of the Affordable Care Act, was delayed for more than a year while various interest groups weighed in. As a result of those comments, CMS has exempted payments or other transfers of value provided as compensation for speaking at a manufacturer’s or GPO’s continuing education event, if certain conditions are met. The final rule has met with measured praise, and AMA President Jeremy Lazarus, MD said, “Physicians’ relationships with the pharmaceutical industry should be transparent and focused on benefits to patients.”


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