Millions of Payment Records Will be Withheld From Physician Payment Database LaunchAug 27, 2014
When the federal government launches the Open Payment database showing payments to physicians from pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers, one-third of the records will be withheld because of data inconsistencies, according to ProPublica.
The release of this information is mandated under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, a provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Making this information public is an important step in providing greater transparency about conflicts of interest in medicine, ProPublica explains.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found flaws in the data in the past two weeks, while investigating a complaint from a physician that payments attributed to him were actually made to another physician with the same name. In reviewing the complaint, CMS found that some physicians were being linked to medical license numbers or national provider identification numbers that were not theirs, ProPublica reports. The withheld records won't be posted until June 2015. The first release of records – slated for September 30 – will include payments to doctors made from August 1 to December 31, 2013.
CMS temporarily suspended the verification system for 11 days while officials investigated the discrepancies in the records. Physicians will have until September 8 to review their data. In a written statement, Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Program Integrity, said, “CMS takes data integrity very seriously and took swift action after a physician reported a problem.” Agrawal said CMS had “instituted a system fix to prevent similar errors."
But physicians have told ProPublica that in correcting the records, CMS had removed accurate payment data. One physician said that three of the four companies that reported payments to him “have now disappeared” from his record, according to ProPublica.