The ACR has joined the American Medical Association—and more than 110 other medical associations and societies—in asking CMS to postpone the deadline for physicians to register, review and dispute data in the Open Payments System prior to its scheduled publication on September 30, 2014. The current deadline for physicians to review the database looms large—August 27, 2014.
In a letter dated August 5, 2014, the AMA asks CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to consider extending the publication deadline until March 31, 2015, to compensate for this year’s six-month delay in providing physicians access to the database, as well as an overly complex registration process that entails well more than the 30 to 45 minutes and five steps described by CMS.
The additional time also will give industry, policy makers and physicians time to sort through a number of lingering questions and misconceptions about the program, designed to alert the public to financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers that could influence care decisions.
For instance, in the proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2015, CMS has proposed revoking the Sunshine Act exclusion for CME, largely because of requests from other accrediting bodies for similar exclusions. The proposed MPFS would grant the exemption for third-party transfers to continuing education only where industry donors are unaware of the identities of speakers and faculty until after the funds have been transferred.
The AMA recommends that the proposal be modified to apply the exemption when the manufacturer provides CE funding but does not select or pay the covered recipient; or provide the CE provider with a distinct, identifiable set of covered recipients to be considered as speakers/faculty.
“This accomplishes CMS’ goal while eliminating the potential for negatively impacting CE,” the letter reads. “To allow CE providers time to ensure that their processes comply with the modified exemption, we urge CMS to make this change effective six months after the final rule is issued.”
The AMA also was critical of CMS’s decision to not include medical textbooks, reprints of peer-reviewed scientific clinical journal articles and other services used to educate physicians among the exclusions.
Meanwhile, all physicians are encouraged to review the information prior to the deadline, because anything that appears in error will remain for an entire year.
The three step guides to assist physicians with the Sunshine Act include tips on completing each of the steps:
- Step 1: Complete CMS' e-verification process
- Step 2: Register with CMS’ Open Payments system
- Step 3: Review and dispute data
The AMA’s “ Physician Sunshine Act Tool Kit" provides many other resources to help physicians navigate the Sunshine Act, including a list of important dates, answers to frequently asked questions, information about how to challenge incorrect reports and ways to be more transparent with patients about their interactions with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. These tools are all available at www.ama-assn.org/go/sunshine.