CMS Says Physician Payment Website Is Back Online

On Thursday, August 14, CMS (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) announced that the Open Payments System (OPS) website, where doctors can review and dispute their financial interactions as required under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, is back online, after being taken down on August 3 to investigate reported data issues, which included a glitch that allowed doctors to see payments made to other doctors who have a similar name. 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.

Under the Sunshine Act, drug and medical device manufacturers are required to report their financial interactions with licensed physicians - 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.

In July, CMS had opened the system for doctors to review and, if necessary, dispute their data, and the six week dispute period was supposed to remain open until August 27, 2014.

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). That would move the end of the review period to about Sept. 7, with a 15-day correction period to follow, according to "Pharmalot" ("Pharmalot," Wall Street Journal, 8/14). CMS previously has said the data should still be available for public release by Sept. 30.

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