CMS Says Physician Payment Website Is Back Online
On Thursday, CMS announced that the Open Payments System is back online, about 11 days after it was taken down to investigate a reported data issue, the Wall Street Journal's "Pharmalot" reports (Loftus, "Pharmalot," Wall Street Journal, 8/14).
The Open Payments System, which is required under the Affordable Care Act's Sunshine Act, aims to boost transparency by making public what payments health care providers have received from drugmakers and medical device manufactures. It has been scheduled to launch on Sept. 30 (Loftus, "Pharmalot," Wall Street Journal, 8/14).
However, a ProPublica investigation and other media reports discovered mistakes in the information that could undermine a health care providers' professional reputation, such as incorrectly listing drugmaker payments. Last week, the American Medical Association and more than 100 other medical professional groups in a letter asked CMS to delay the launch of the database by six months, expressing concern that the database "will not be ready and will likely lead to the release of inaccurate, misleading and false information" (California Healthline, 8/8). On Aug. 3, CMS took the database offline to investigate a reported data accuracy issue.
CMS said OPS is available again for physicians and teaching hospitals to review and contest payment data before the system goes public. When the site was taken down, providers were in the midst of a 45-day review period, which had been scheduled to end Aug. 27 ("Pharmalot," Wall Street Journal, 8/14).
In a release, CMS said an investigation into a physician complaint revealed 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. This erroneously linked physician data in the Open Payments system."
CMS said it has resolved the issue and removed incorrect payment transactions from the website. It noted that all data in the system have been revalidated to verify that the physician identifiers are accurate and that payments are attributed to just one provider (CMS release, 8/15).
According to Modern Healthcare, CMS has said it would extend the review period by one day for every day the site was down (Tahir, Modern Healthcare 8/14).
According to the CMS release, the agency will extend until Sept. 8 the deadline for physicians and teaching hospitals to review their records to account for the time the system was offline. CMS said the data should still be available for public release by Sept. 30 (CMS release, 8/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.