There have been several recent and noteworthy developments related to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Open Payments. As we told you here and here, CMS held a follow-up webinar this week to address additional questions related to Sunshine registration and reporting. The slides from this webinar are available on the CMS Open Payments website. Notably, CMS has not provided firm dates for registration, stating only that it will be available in “early 2014.” Further, CMS announced that another webinar will be held in January 2014 related to technical aspects of the Open Payments system. CMS also released today the reporting specification templates that we discussed here.
Additionally, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner recently received a letter from Congress related to medical journals and textbooks. Currently, CMS requires applicable manufacturers to report these items to CMS under the federal Sunshine law if provided to physicians or teaching hospitals. Specifically, CMS stated in FAQ 8171: “Education materials, such as medical textbooks or journal reprints, that are educational to covered recipients but are not intended for patient use or directly beneficial to patients are not included in the exclusion.” The bipartisan signatories to the letter to Ms. Tavenner stated that CMS’ interpretation of the statutory language is inconsistent with congressional intent and urged CMS to reverse this policy. This letter follows other similar attempts to change CMS’ policy, including a recent letter from 74 physician organizations to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.