The Physician Payment Sunshine Act was implemented along with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a measure to ensure that finances within healthcare weren’t being abused. The act requires physicians to report certain transactions to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Once information has been submitted, physicians are still given a period of 45 days to review it and make corrections as needed.

A website called Open Payments is used for this purpose. Physicians or teaching hospitals can register themselves in the system and then report their payments. There are three kinds of transactions that must be reported:

  • Applicable manufacturers* must report the payments they make to physicians and teaching hospitals
  • Applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) must report physicians’ or their immediate family members’ ownership or investment interest
  • Applicable GPOs must report the payments they made to either investors or physician owners if the ownership/investment interest was during the reporting year.

An error in the Open Payments website was recently exposed, resulting in the site being shut down for almost two weeks. According to CMS, a group purchasing organization had reported data with incorrect physician information. In order to protect the integrity of the data they’re compiling, CMS opted to shut down the website until the issue could be resolved. This has also delayed the physician review deadline until September 8th; although it was originally due to conclude on August 27th. Despite this extension, the information will still become publically available on the original date of September 30th.

The site is now back up and running and CMS has reported that they have taken preventative measures to avoid future issues. Though the Open Payments site errors have been fixed and a prevention system has been installed, there’s still concern regarding the site’s performance. The American Medical Association (AMA) would prefer an extension, requesting a March 31st, 2015 deadline for the website launch.

*The guidelines for determining applicable manufacturers can be found on the CMS website.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi

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