Healthcare Business News

Open Payments site scheduled for more downtime; complaints continue

By Darius Tahir
Posted: August 28, 2014 - 6:45 pm ET

The troubled Open Payments Act website is encountering a bit more turbulence. The CMS announced Thursday that it plans upcoming outages for the site and that downtime would be used for “scheduled maintenance upgrades.”

As a result, the review-and-dispute process for doctor data displayed on the site will be extended until Sept. 10, the agency said.

That delay will push the corrections period to Sept. 25. The agency still says that the data will be released to the public Sept. 30.

The outages are scheduled for Aug. 30 between 1 and 11 a.m., and Sept. 5 for an as-yet-undisclosed duration.

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The latest delay comes after trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America questioned the agency's transparency in rejecting data submissions from manufacturers for the site.

The CMS, concerned with the possibility of intermingling, that is, matching payments data with the wrong doctor, has reportedly sent back about one-third of records for manufacturer correction.

The CMS sent out a pair of e-mails Thursday clarifying the standards it applies to data submissions from manufacturers. In essence, submissions must match CMS' records of the national provider identification number, state license information, and first and last name exactly.

But in a statement, Jennifer Wall, PhRMA's senior communications director, said, “Our companies continue to review the data issues surrounding the recent actions by CMS to remove certain information from Open Payments. To date, they still do not have a full accounting of the rationale behind CMS' decision and therefore, it is difficult for us to fully understand the ongoing data validation issues.”

The website's problems have prompted criticism from other organizations as well. The American Medical Association has called for the registration-and-review process to extend until March 31, 2015.

The CMS this month had acknowledged that it will withhold until next June about one-third of submitted records on drug and device-industry payments to physicians and teaching hospitals because of suspected inaccuracies with data.

The database is required by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir

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