Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) sent a letter asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to expedite implementation of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which requires drug and medical-device companies to disclose payments, gifts and other items of value given to doctors. The law, which the senators sponsored, was passed as a part of the healthcare reform law. The provision is set to take effect Sept. 30, 2013, but Kohl and Grassley said in their letter that they are concerned that disclosure actions being taken by companies and providers in advance of the law taking effect are causing confusion among consumers. “Both academic institutions and manufacturers are releasing payment data about the same transactions, but with different levels of precision addressing different time periods,” the senators wrote in their letter. “As a result, the information appears to conflict and is therefore difficult for the public to use.” Kohl and Grassley have asked Sebelius to “promptly” designate an agency to oversee the creation and operation of the national disclosure database, which will establish a single, uniform source of payment disclosure information. The lawmakers also have asked HHS to brief the Senate Finance and Aging committees on the agency's work and provide an opportunity for committee members to participate in the development process.
Editor's Note: To learn more about financial relationships between physicians and industry, please watch this issue's "60 Seconds with Modern Physician" news video.