Feds release ‘Sunshine Act’ rules

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a long-awaited final rule Friday that will increase public awareness of financial relationships between drug and device manufacturers and certain health care providers. Feds say it’s one of many steps in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act designed to create greater transparency in the health care market.

Many were calling on the Obama administration to release the final regulations of the “Sunshine Act” regulations, which are more than a year overdue.

This rule finalizes the provisions that require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals, and medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program to report payments or other transfers of value they make to physicians and teaching hospitals to CMS. CMS will then post that data to a public website. The final rule also requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to disclose to CMS physician ownership or investment interests.

“You should know when your doctor has a financial relationship with the companies that manufacture or supply the medicines or medical devices you may need,” Peter Budetti, CMS deputy administrator for program integrity said in a statement Friday. “Disclosure of these relationships allows patients to have more informed discussions with their doctors.”

This increased transparency is intended to help reduce the potential for conflicts of interest that physicians or teaching hospitals could face as a result of their relationships with manufacturers.

The 287-page rule orders that industry players begin collecting their data on Aug. 1 and report it to CMS by March 31, 2014.

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