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Doctors must register now to dispute Open Payments info

It’s decision time for doctors.

At least it is for those docs and teaching hospitals that will dispute or think they may want to dispute public postings of certain payments or items of value given to them by drug manufacturers and makers of medical and biomedical devices as stipulated by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.

The Sunshine law and accompanying Open Payments system, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, really kicks off Sept. 30, when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) first releases the information publicly.

But docs and officials at teaching hospitals need to act quickly if they want to be able to question payments. CMS will not mediate disputes; if payments are disputed and not resolved by Aug. 27 they will appear on the Open Payments system as “under dispute” while the doc or hospital tries to resolve things with manufacturers or group purchasing organizations (GPOs).

So, doctors and hospitals have from July 14 to Aug. 27 to review and initiate disputes of data submitted about them. That’s the first 45-day period of the process. The next step is a correction period from Aug. 28 to Sept. 11 during which applicable manufacturers and GPOs can try to resolve disputes. Corrected data will be noted as resolved on the Open Payments system.

In the meantime, CMS recently updated its Open Payments User Guide.

CMS says Open Payments is about helping beneficiaries, consumers and healthcare providers better understand relationships between teaching hospitals and companies Agency officials also say they are hoping to encourage transparency; prevent inappropriate influence on research, education and clinical decision-making; avoiding conflicts of interest; and minimize risk of increased healthcare costs.

“Collaboration among physicians, teaching hospitals, and industry manufacturers can contribute to the design and delivery of life-saving drugs and devices,” CMS says on its Open Payments website. “However, while some collaboration is beneficial, payments from manufacturers to physicians and teaching hospitals can also introduce conflicts of interests.”

Naturally, all this hubbub around sunshine has some physicians worried, and the AMA is urging members to get moving if they’re concerned about their data.

The front page of the physician trade association’s Web site right now is emblazoned with a step-by-step process urging physicians to complete the CMS e-verification, register with the Open Payments system, and review and dispute data by Aug. 27.

In a statement emailed to SearchHealthIT, Robert Wah, M.D., president of the American Medical Association, said:

“It is imperative that physicians make sure to register, review, and if necessary, dispute inaccurate reporting under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act as soon as possible since the limited, 45-day review period before the information goes public has already begun.

“The American Medical Association (AMA) is aggressively spreading the word about how physicians can protect themselves from potentially inaccurate reporting, raising awareness of the August 27 deadline to have potentially erroneous data flagged in the initial public release, and is providing an online toolkit to help physicians go through the registration, review and dispute process.”

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