Despite some technical difficulties, CMS still plans to release detailed information about payments to doctors from drug and medical device companies. Doctors were originally given until August 27th to review the payment data and make corrections before the launch date. However, the Open Payments system went offline from August 3rd to 15th when some users could see information regarding other doctors. As a result, CMS extended the deadline to review and dispute payment data to September 8th.
The release of this information, per the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, is widely anticipated by watchdog groups and will likely increase consumer scrutiny of promotional payments. A March 2014 ProPublica article (see previous blog post) already identified dramatic decreases in payments made to doctors by large pharmaceutical companies, possibly in anticipation of the this data release. Medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have asked CMS to postpone releasing the payments data to given doctors enough time to dispute incorrect information. However, it appears that CMS intends to keep the September 30th launch date for the online payment database.