CMS blames vendors for open payment system hiccup

After a two-week hiatus, the Open Payments system has reopened, and physicians can resume reviewing payments reported by vendors under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.

CMS reportedly deactivated the verification system on the evening of August 3 after receiving physician complaints about errors.  The agency discovered in the interim that manufacturers and group purchasing organizations submitted intermingled data, such as the wrong state license number or national provider identifier, for physicians with the same last and first names.

To compensate for the downtime, physicians will now have until September 8, 2014, to review their records before they are made public on September 30, 2014. The agency says it revalidated all data and removed incorrect payment transactions from the system.

“CMS takes data integrity very seriously and took swift action after a physician reported a problem,” CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Program Integrity Shantanu Agrawal, MD said in a press release. “We have identified the root cause of the problem and have instituted a system fix to prevent similar errors. We strongly encourage physicians to review their records before the deadline and before the data are posted publically to identify any discrepancies.”

Physician Payments Sunshine Act, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, requires that vendors and other third parties report all payments in excess of $10 made to physicians. The American Medical Association, the ACR and 110 other medical associations and societies last week urged CMS to postpone the deadline for physicians to dispute data, but they had a six-month delay in mind.