Federal Sunshine Act: An Overview

Federal Sunshine Act

The deadline is fast approaching for physicians to dispute upcoming public reports on pharmaceutical and device industry payments to physicians.

Physicians must register and file their disputes with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by August 27, 2014, or they will not be allowed to flag incorrect reports until 2015.

Even if you didn’t receive direct payments from industry in 2013, you are strongly advised to register. There have been some initial reports of database errors, including physicians who received no payments but were reported to have received some.

How to Register

Registration is a three-step process:

It is strongly recommended that physicians start their dispute process as early as possible. Disputes are reported directly to manufacturers, and CMS will not arbitrate the dispute process.

The program is part of the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act. Under the law, pharmaceutical companies and device industries must publicly report direct certain payments and any other transfer of value provided to physicians and teaching hospitals.

These transfers of value include consulting and speaker fees, food, beverage, entertainment, travel and lodging. These entities will also report direct and indirect ownership and investments interests in their organizations held by physicians and their family members. 

Physicians do not have to file any reports. All reporting is done by industry. Physicians may review their own data before it is released to the public. Physicians who believe that their information is inaccurate can file a dispute and seek corrections. Disputes are filed directly to the manufacturers; CMS will not arbitrate or mediate any disputes.

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