Grassley on the Physician Payments Sunshine Act Data Set to Launch
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is the co-author of the bipartisan Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Enacted in 2010, the law requires drug and medical device companies to disclose the payments they make to doctors for speaking fees, research grants, trips, and other items of value. The information will be included in a publicly available database maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The first public release of the data is set to occur on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Grassley made the following comment on the scheduled release.
“After years of data reporting, database mechanical work, and review of accuracy from doctors, the payment data will become public for the first time. My staff sought and received regular briefings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the launch. The roll-out won’t be perfect. Some information will be withheld because CMS wanted to protect doctors from a small amount of reports that might be imprecise. But as the information is refined, the database will improve. It will become more complete as doctors, drug and device companies and CMS work to update and refine the information.
“From day one, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act database will be helpful in shining light on a part of medicine most people haven’t had the time or opportunity to consider. Eventually, the database will become a valuable resource for all of us with a stake in our country’s health care system. That includes individual consumers, insurance companies, and taxpayers who pay for Medicare and Medicaid.
“Transparency shouldn’t stop doctors from receiving a payment if they want to. It should empower consumers to learn whether their doctors take payments and if so, why, and whether that matters to them. The patient who is prescribed a drug that might be beneficial yet risky will be able to learn whether the prescribing doctor accepted drug company money to study the risks. The information might not change the outcome, but it’s something a patient might like to know. That’s the idea behind the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.”