The CMS is considering making tweaks to its controversial Open Payments policy to ensure accuracy of payment data posted by providers.
The agency is inviting industry to participate in a conference call on how the agency should move forward. The call is scheduled to take place Aug. 2. The input will be used to create a future rule-making.
The Open Payments policy was mandated by the Affordable Care Act and requires annual reporting of payments from medical device and drug manufacturers to physicians and teaching hospitals. The information is then posted for public review.
Nearly 620,000 physicians and about 1,100 teaching hospitals received $7.52 billion in payments and ownership and investment interests in 2015, according to tallies compiled by the CMS. Last year's total was $7.49 billion.
Industry groups like the American Medical Association have repeatedly slammed the program, saying the CMS has not implemented adequate measures to ensure the accuracy of the data submitted by the manufacturers or the ability to resolve disputes.
In addition to the call next week, the agency is accepting written comments through Sept. 6 via the docket for the 2017 Medicare physician payment proposed rule.
“We have identified areas in the rule that might benefit from revision,” the agency said. “Stakeholder feedback is important as we move forward in enhancing our system and refining our reporting requirements.”
A key area the CMS would like to evaluate more is how drug and device companies can pre-vet pay transactions with providers before information is posted to ensure published data are valid and reliable.
Another area of concern is how reporting requirements should be updated so that pay data interactions are tracked in the event of a merger or acquisition. The agency also said there has been repeated inquiries over how to best verify receipt of payments or transfers of value to teaching hospitals.
The industry has struggled given the size of the hospitals and the number of departments they have. “Without context around a payment record, teaching hospitals have reported difficulties verifying payments attributed to them,” the CMS says.
It's unclear when a future rule-making would be published. The CMS says it is under no statutory deadline.
Last week, a host of medical societies backed a bill that would exempt drug and device companies from having to report payments made to doctors for participating in continuing medical education.