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When the 21st Century Cures Act was first presented, it contained provisions which would have weakened the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
Pharmaceutical and Medical Device companies are required to track and report all payments or “transfers of value” to physicians and teaching hospitals that exceed $10.00.
CMS will make available the searchable, public-facing website displaying payment data from pharmaceutical and medical device companies to physicians and teaching hospitals. Despite some glitches in the pre-release website that physicians can use to review and dispute the data, CMS is holding to its planned publication date.
The Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires that all manufacturers of drugs, devices, and biological and medical supplies covered by federal health care programs report all financial relationships with physicians and teaching hospitals to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The goal of the law is to enhance patient safety by increasing the transparency of financial relationships between health care providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers. CMS will then report the information publicly on a website scheduled to be launched on September 30, 2014.
On August 1st, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device manufacturers will be required to begin collecting data on payments to physicians and other providers under the “Physician Payment Sunshine” provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Physicians are being urged, by professional societies, the American Hospital Association, the AMA and others to educate themselves on the “Sunshine” provisions so that they can accurately track and, if necessary, correct the payment information that will be reported in public databases in September 2014.
The “Sunshine” provisions were designed to increase transparency in industry’s formal and informal relationships with medical providers. Ever since astute observers noticed that physicians could be influenced by financial considerations (the Stark anti-kickback laws date to the 1980’s) there has been concern that industry largesse could unduly influence research results, prescribing patterns, continuing medical education, and even practice patterns. The thinking is, to paraphrase Justice Brandeis, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant”.