Delayed Launch of Sunshine Act Website May Affect Physician Review

Tony Berberabe, MPH @OncBiz_Wiz
Published: Thursday, Apr 10, 2014

A delay in the launch of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) web site that tracks the financial relationship between physician and industry may prevent physicians from fully reviewing the data.

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act, sometimes referred to as the Sunshine Act, requires manufacturers of drugs, devices, biological therapeutics, and medical supplies to disclose to CMS any payments or transfers of value to physicians. Although the act is meant to reveal physician-industry relationships, the question of how society at large and the medical field will interpret these data are unknown.

The web site, found here, was supposed to launch on January 1 (phase 1), but launched instead on February 18. Despite the 6-week delay, manufacturers and group purchasing organizations could only register and report until March 31. The program originally called for doctors to be able to register for the web site at the same time so they could begin reviewing data (phase 2).

However, CMS says that phase 2 has not yet begun and is slated to begin in May and extend for no fewer than 30 days. At that time, physicians will also be allowed to review the accuracy of the financial data that’s submitted by industry about them. But because of the delay, a full accounting of all transactions may not be available for review.

CMS states that no action is needed from affected physicians and teaching hospitals at this time. CMS will soon issue more specific information regarding the dates for phase 2 registration and data submission, as well as when registration and review/correction will open for affected physicians and teaching hospitals, which will be no later than August 1, 2014. More details are available from CMS here.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) explains on its website that although there is no specific language applicable to oncologists, the Sunshine Act affects all physicians. Therefore, any payments or transfers of value for activities, such as speaking on behalf of a manufacturer, accepting food brought to a physician’s office by a manufacturer’s representative, or acting as a paid consultant, could result in a reportable payment. Physicians can ask manufacturers and companies if the payment or item would result in a report before accepting it. Physicians can ask the value of the transfer so they can keep track of reports.

Oncologists and hematologists in private practice could receive research funding from a manufacturer that would be reported. Providers can keep track of their research payments from manufacturers and have the option of refusing to accept a payment or transfer in order to avoid a report.

Further details are available on ASCO’s website.

Sources: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and American Society of Clinical Oncology

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