Doctors press extension to physician database deadline

The American Medical Association pushed the administration Friday to delay launching a database that would let the public see if their doctors have conflicts of interest with drug and device makers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took its Open Payments System offline last week after it found in some cases that doctors with identical names could see each other’s profiles. However, on Friday Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said the system had been fixed and was on track to be publicly released on Sept. 30.

ADVERTISEMENT
“The issues that resulted in the system being taken offline further underscore the need for more time than CMS proposes to ensure the system is actually ready and that physicians have adequate time to register, review, and seek correction of inaccurate data,” said AMA President Robert Wah. “The lack of faith physicians have in the system at this point in time, is making them wonder if taking time away from patients to go through the process is even worthwhile.”

The Open Payment System was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to increase transparency over how physicians are paid. It was proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) to let patients see if their doctors have a conflict of interest leading them to prescribe more expensive treatments. 

The AMA urged CMS to delay the public launch of the database until March 31, 2015, to let doctors review and dispute information on the site and fix any potential technical glitches. 

“Wrong information, reduces patient trust which unnecessarily damages patient-physician relationships,” the group said. “Physicians deserve adequate amount of time to ensure the information being reported is accurate.”

CMS says the deadline for doctors to dispute information on the database has been pushed to Sept. 8 from Aug. 27, but it is sticking to its Sept. 30 deadline to launch the site.

“CMS takes data integrity very seriously and took swift action after a physician reported a problem [on the database],” said Shantanu Agrawal, CMS’s new director at the Center for Program Integrity on Friday. “We have identified the root cause of the problem and have instituted a system fix to prevent similar errors.”