Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Herb Kohl, authors of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, today outlined substantive points to guide federal implementation of the act. The senators commented to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the timeliness of implementation, the accuracy of the data, the categories of providers to include in the disclosure, and useful context for the data.
"It's disappointing that CMS missed the statutory deadline for the sunshine regulations, but at least the agency is on the right track," Grassley said. "Now, it's important for the guidance to dot every "i' and cross every "t.' The more thorough the guidance, the more drug makers and medical device makers will know their exact obligations, and the more helpful the transparency will be for building confidence in this part of medicine."
Kohl said, "Sunshine laws are only effective when accurate information is in the hands of consumers. We'll continue to monitor the progress of building a useful database so that consumers are fully served with knowledge about financial relationships that could affect their health care."
Grassley and Kohl wrote to the acting CMS administrator with their points and also asked questions about when CMS will begin data collection.
The senators developed the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which was signed into law in 2010, after revelations of significant under-reporting of the amount of payments received by certain doctors from drug and device companies. The new law requires public disclosure of the financial relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical, medical device and biologics industries. The law required the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish reporting procedures for applicable manufacturers to submit information, as well as procedures for making that information available to the public, by October 1, 2011. CMS issued the guidance in December after more than a year of pushing for a timely release from Grassley and Kohl.