Sunshine Act System Temporarily Taken Offline

UPDATE:  CMS states that "[f]or each day the Open Payments system is offline for this incident, CMS will adjust the Open Payments review and dispute deadline and the following 15-day corrections period deadline accordingly."*


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has pulled the plug on a new database intended to disclose potential conflicts of interest among physicians.

The agency’s Open Payments System (aka Sunshine Act) requires drug and medical device makers to report their financial interactions with doctors – including consulting fees, travel reimbursements, research grants and other gifts. Any payments, ownership interests and other “transfers of value” will be reported to CMS for publication in an online database. It is supposed to go public on Sept. 30 after doctors have been given a chance to dispute any information on it by Aug. 27.

However, the agency released a statement Thursday, August 7 noting that the database “has been taken offline temporarily to investigate a reported issue” and physicians won’t be able to review their data on the site until it is fixed.

“After an assessment of the data resulting from a complaint, we discovered that a limited number of physician payment records submitted by at least one manufacturer incorrectly contained information about other physicians,” said CMS spokesperson Aaron Albright.

While this means the dispute deadline will be extended, the agency has not said whether it will also delay the public launch of the site.

According to CMS the glitch allows a small number of physicians to see payments made to other physicians who have a similar name. The agency says it has taken the system offline to prevent physicians from seeing data that doesn’t belong to them.

There had already been some concern that the database could contain mistakes, and that doctors would not have enough time to fix them in order to safeguard their reputations.

CMS said doctors can still register with the CMS Enterprise Portal (the first step in signing up to review your data), despite the shutdown. They will not, however, be able to register for the Open Payments system (step two) until the system is brought back online.

Doctors and authorized representatives can submit questions to the CMS Help Desk at Live Help Desk support is also available by calling (855) 326-8366, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Central time, excluding Federal holidays.

For information on how to review and dispute your information click here

(Source: The Hill, 8/7/2014)
(Update Source: PolicyMed 8/7/2014)