Dark Clouds Over Sunshine Act


Once again the Obama administration has been tripped up in launching a healthcare-related online system.  This time the problem concerns the Physician Payments Sunshine Act—the act that is supposed to enable the public to see whether a physician has a financial relationship with a drug or device manufacturer.  The act was part of the massive Affordable Care Act legislation.

CMS has set up an online system to allow a physician to review and verify information about payments before they’re published online.  The medical community was already upset that CMS had decided to revoke the exemption of payments related to continuing medical education (CME).  Then, matters got worse when CMS postponed physicians’ opportunity to sign up for the verification system for six and a half months—from January 1 to July 14.

Then it turned out that at least one physician had been confused with another on the system, with manufacturer payments that had been made to the second physician attributed to the first.  On top of that CMS discovered that all the data supplied by at least one manufacturer were flawed.

Things got so bad last week that CMS threw up its hands (figuratively) and announced that it was closing down the verification system and would extend the 45-day verification period allowed to physicians for however long the system stays closed down.

All in the name of greater transparency.

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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