Open Payments / Physician Sunshine Act


The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), requires drug and device manufacturers to report transfers of value to physicians and teaching hospitals publically. As a resulte of the law, manufacturers and group purchasing organizations must disclose to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) any physician ownership or investment interests.

The law is intended to help reduce potential conflicts of interest that could arise from relationships between physicians or teaching hospitals and manufacturers. The AAFP supports reasonable transparency efforts, but believes physicians should be given the opportunity to preview and appeal data before the information is made publicly available.

In advocating for family physicians and their patients, the AAFP:

  • Recommended a number of key provisions throughout the Sunshine Act rule-making process, including the exclusion from reporting of all certified and accredited continuing medical education (CME) activities;
  • Served as a signatory to a letter coordinated by the American Medical Association and signed by 49 other national physician organizations and 43 state medical societies which focused on the rule’s impact on CME activities;
  • Urged CMS to establish a uniform, national and mandatory data verification and arbitration process and to work with physician organizations to strengthen the disclosure review process.

While AAFP supports the spirit of transparency promoted by the Sunshine Act, we oppose rules that could result in the publication of misleading information or impose costly and burdensome paperwork requirements on family physicians.

On February 18, 2014, some applicable drug and device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations will begin to submit data to CMS on payments made to health care providers, including gifts, consulting fees and research activities. This date marks the first of two phases of data submission implementation under the Open Payments program. Within May of 2014 manufacturers will complete the second phase by submitting additional, detailed payment information.

Once CMS completes the two phases of data submission, health care providers and manufacturers will have an opportunity to review and correct inaccuracies. CMS will then post the data by September 30, 2014. 

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