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Frequently Asked Questions about Open Payments


On September 30, 2014 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly released Open Payments data, as mandated by the Sunshine provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The data set includes data on financial relationships between drug and device manufacturers, group purchasing organizations (GPOs), physicians and teaching hospitals.

Q: How will changes in the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule affect payments for continuing medical education (CME)?

CMS revised the Open Payments Rule to remove the provision that had specifically excluded from reporting requirements payments provided to physician speakers at certain accredited or certified CME events. However, CMS confirmed that CME-related payments may still be excluded if they comply with the "indirect payments" exclusion. According to the Council on Medical Specialty Societies, CMS effectively expanded the CME exemption by stating that they would not consider any CME-related payments to be reportable so long as the commercial supporter "does not require, instruct, direct or otherwise case the continuing education event provider to provide the payment...to a covered recipient."

Q: When will the new CME rule be effective?

Data collection requirements under the new rule will begin January 1, 2016, with reporting to CMS in 2017.

Q: What is the AUA's position on the Sunshine Act/Open Payments program?

The AUA supports the principles of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act and transparency between physicians and industry. We are committed to providing meaningful background about ways in which physicians and the pharmaceutical industry collaborate for patients. When shared within the appropriate context, the data provided by the Open Payments program has the potential to help patients learn more about industry-physician collaborations and understand how these interactions benefit their health and, more broadly, medical innovation.

Q: I can't access my information online via the CMS Open Payments Portal. What do I do?

Hopefully, physicians have completed the two-step enrollment process necessary to access the Open Payments website and review the data reported about them. If you are having issues accessing the online data, we urge you to contact the CMS Help Desk directly at openpayments@cms.hhs.gov. For live assistance, call Help Desk Support on 1-855-326-8366, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (CT).

Q: My information is incorrect in the system. What do I do?

Leading up to this release, the AUA sent regular reminders to members urging them to take time to review what would be released. AUA members are urged to contact industry companies directly to initiate a dispute if there are errors in the published information.