The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services updated reporting requirements for continuing medical education, confirming that manufacturers are responsible for reporting indirect payments to the Open Payments database if they learn the identity of the physician speaker within one year.


Drug and medical device manufacturers that pay third-party CME providers to hire physicians for education events are required to report those payments, which are referred to as indirect payments, to the CMS if they find out the identify of the doctors who spoke or attended the event within one year.

CME advocates believe that this will mean the majority of CME payments will still remain unreported. Others have said they expect more reporting because manufacturers tend to find out the identify of the speakers.

The indirect payments that meet the new reporting threshold now have to be reported to the CMS starting in 2017 and will eventually be published in the Open Payments database, according to guidance issued by the CMS on Friday. The CMS defines direct payments as transfers of value made directly by the manufacturer to the physician or teaching hospital.

In 2014 the CMS revised reporting requirements for CME payments, removing a carve-out that it had created in the rulemaking process that exempted reporting of CME activities that fit certain categories, such as activities conducted by companies that are accredited by the ACCME, one of the nation’s largest accrediting bodies. The revision was criticized by organizations that represent CME providers and drugmakers.

Those groups have advocated in Washington for legislation that would again provide an exemption. The sweeping 21st Century Cures Act that passed 344-77 in the House of Representatives in mid-July would exempt CME payments from reporting.

The Open Payments database is a website that publishes information about financial relationships between industry and healthcare providers. Data released in June showed that drug and device makers spent $6.49 billion on payments to physicians and teaching hospitals for both research and marketing purposes.

Manufacturers increased their spending on CME by 2.4% to $675.9 million in 2014, the first industry spending boost in six years.


Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly said the CMS had pushed back the deadline for manufacturers to start reporting. The deadline for reporting, which begins in 2017, has not changed.