Sunshine Act Implementation Proceeds; CMS Re-opens the Open Payments System



On August 15, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) re-opened the Open Payments system for physicians and teaching hospitals to register, review, and, if needed, dispute information gathered to date. CMS had taken the system off-line on August 3, 2014. As part of the re-opening, CMS extended the time for physicians and teaching hospitals to review their on-line records until September 8, 2014. CMS also stated that the website will still go live to the general public on September 30, 2014.

The Open Payments system was instituted as part of the implementation of the Physicians Payment Sunshine Act (Sunshine Act). Pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers enter data into the Open Payments system regarding certain financial relationships with physicians and teaching hospitals. Thereafter, physicians and teaching hospitals are permitted to view and, if applicable, dispute incorrect data. It was during this review stage that CMS took the Open Payments system off-line, following a physician’s complaint that his information in the Open Payments system was inaccurate. 

As part of the re-opening of the Open Payments System, CMS stated that it has identified the “root cause” of the problem and revalidated all the data in the Open Payments system to make sure all physician identifiers are accurate. According to CMS, manufacturers and group purchasing organizations submitted “intermingled data” for physicians with the same first and last names which resulted in the errors. It has since been reported that CMS will be returning one-third of the records it received due to the errors and may impose fines on the pharmaceutical and device companies if further mistakes are made. No deadline has yet been set for pharmaceutical and device companies to resubmit incorrect data.

Physicians and teaching hospitals should take care to review all data in the Open Payments system before it goes live to the public. Saul Ewing will continue to monitor the progress of the Open Payments system.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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