CMS Open Payments Program

One-third of 'Sunshine' Data Not Available for 2014 Publication

August 27, 2014 07:15 pm News Staff

In yet another new development surrounding CMS' Open Payments transparency program(go.cms.gov), on Aug. 27, CMS spokesperson Tony Salters confirmed for AAFP News that about one-third of the data the agency has gathered will not be made public until 2015.

Regarding this most recent action, it appears that CMS is simply erring on the side of caution by ensuring data integrity before publication.

Here's some background: The Open Payments transparency program was created to implement the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Legislators' intent in passing the act was to promote transparency about the financial relationships between the medical industry and physicians and teaching hospitals by making data about those relationships available to the public.

But earlier this month, a problem with the Open Payments reporting system led to a temporary shutdown of the portal through which physicians enter the system.

On Aug. 15, the site reopened for business, and physicians and teaching hospitals have since been able to access their records to review and, if necessary, dispute data included there. CME extended that review period to Sept. 8 to make up for the system downtime. Furthermore, the agency intends to hold true to its Sept. 30 data publication deadline for data that has been cleared to publish this year.

As for why some data won't publish until 2015, "CMS has implemented more enhanced algorithms and validation checks to verify that the physician identifiers used by the applicable manufacturer or GPO (government purchasing organization) are accurate and that all payment records are attributed to the correct physician," Salters explained.

"This enhanced matching process flagged current records within the system that were inaccurate; these flagged records need to be corrected and resubmitted to resolve data-matching issues."

According to the agency, those incorrect payment transactions -- identified through the re-evaluation process -- have been removed from the current review and dispute process and will be returned to the submitting manufacturer or GPO for correction and resubmission to CMS.

"Since these transactions will not be part of the current review and dispute period, they will not be released to the public this year," Salters confirmed.

New timelines for reviewing that chunk of flawed data will be released in the near future.

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