CMS delays release of some doctor records on transparency website

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Friday that a third of the records in a database showing physician ties with the drug and medical industry have errors and will not be made public in September.

“CMS is returning about one-third of submitted records to the manufacturers and [group purchasing organizations] because of intermingled data, and will include these records in the next reporting cycle,” said agency spokesman Aaron Albright.

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“Manufacturers will have to resubmit the data and it will become public after the manufacturers correct the data and physicians get a chance to review and dispute the data,” he added.

The announcement is only the latest setback for CMS’s Open Payments System, slated to become public in September.

CMS took the database offline earlier this month after realizing a glitch in the system mistakenly allowed doctors with the same name to view each other’s information.

Earlier Friday the agency said it had fixed that problem but didn’t disclose until much later in the day that part of the solution involved removing a huge chunk of the records.

The information won’t be available to the public until the next reporting cycle, which is in June 2015.

The Open Payment System was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to increase transparency over how physicians are paid by drug and device makers.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) proposed the measure to let patients see if their doctors have a conflict of interest that could lead them to prescribe more expensive treatments.

Grassley, said it would be disappointing if CMS holds back a third of the data, and urged the agency to be clear about what information will be made available and what won’t.

“Incomplete information won’t give the public a full picture of payment data,” said the senator. “CMS and the companies have had plenty of time to work this out.”

The American Medical Association and other professional medical groups have voiced concern about the problems with the database and pressed CMS to delay its public launch until next March.

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

The delay was first reported by ProPublica.