April 24, 2012
Senators Chuck Grassly (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), authors of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, are pushing for CMS to get its final implementation rule out the door. Once the rule is published, the process of collecting data on financial transactions between doctors and industry vendors can start. Six months after CMS missed the October 1, 2011 statutory deadline, the senators expressed their displeasure with the agency's slow movement.
After missing the implementation date, CMS again missed a March 31, 2012 start date for the 1,150+ drug, device, biologics and medical supplies manufacturers to report all "transfers of value" given to physicians and teaching hospitals.
The Sunshine Act, as it is nicknamed, is designed to bring transparency to physician interactions with revenue sources that may unduly influence decisions regarding patient care. While such sources as manufacturers' payments for research are vital to healthcare technology development, patients should know when (and what for) large sums of money are attached to their doctors' treatment decisions.
Proposed implementation, published December 19, is available online.