Washington Insider: Open Payments

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Tom Sullivan
Tom Sullivan

In August 2013 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the Open Payments system. Applicable manufacturers (Pharma, Device and Bio) must use this website to comply with the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.

Open Payments has experienced quite a few glitches. Manufacturers faced delays from CMS for submitting data; physicians and teaching hospitals had a five-month delay to even be allowed to register to review their payments. Manufacturers had to submit detailed datasets and attest to their accuracy inside a three-week window. The time crunch worsened an already complicated, time-consuming registration process.

The problems continue. Manufacturers had difficulties uploading data. In early August, CMS had to take the review website for physicians and teaching hospitals down due to errors in the data from a mix-up in the software (it returned Aug. 15). One would think CMS would keep its head down during such times, but in July, they proposed another set of changes to Open Payments.

These problems and changes have set ablaze criticism over the Sunshine Act's implementation and regulations.  In August, more than 100 physician organizations including the American Medical Association requested that CMS delay the release of the data by six months. They also want to ensure that the exemption for accredited CME remains in place.

One day the physician payment data will be published. It is important to let patients know that these payments represent collaborations between manufactures and physicians that are vital to creating better therapies that will benefit them and their children.


Tom Sullivan is president, Rockpointe Corporation, an accredited CME company.

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