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CMS Publishes “Sunshine Act” Database of Payments to Physicians and Teaching Hospitals

October 3, 2014—The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Sept. 30 published the Open Payments database containing payments from industry to healthcare providers.  The public database contains identifiable records for approximately 60 percent of the payments reported by manufacturers after CMS de-identified a large number of reported payments that could not be unambiguously linked to a single physician or teaching hospital.

Open Payments is the program initiated under the Sunshine provisions of the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148 and P.L. 111-152) and requires manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals and medical supplies to report annually to CMS any payments or transfers of value made to physicians and teaching hospitals.

For 2014, manufacturers were required to report to CMS all payments or transfers of value made to physicians or teaching hospitals between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013 [See Washington Highlights, Feb. 8, 2013]. Physicians and teaching hospital representatives had access to the data in advance of the public release to review and dispute any incorrect reports. The AAMC June 2 commented on CMS’ proposed process [See Washington Highlights, June 6].

The review and dispute process was marked by complicated registration requirements, delays, and problems with the website. In response, AAMC sent an Aug. 8 letter to CMS expressing serious concerns and noting that “frustration and discouragement with a difficult to navigate and then inoperable system has caused physicians and teaching hospitals to disengage from the process.”

The public database includes approximately 4.4 million records of payments (including both the fully identified and de-identified payments).  Those payments were made to approximately 546,000 individual physicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals, totaling approximately $3.5 billion. 


Heather Pierce, JD, MPH
Sr. Director, Science Policy & Regulatory Counsel
Telephone: 202-478-9926


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Telephone: 202-903-0806