While interested stakeholders believed covered recipient (physicians and teaching hospitals) registration for Open Payments would begin January 1, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has adjusted that deadline to "Early 2014." One could speculate CMS has retained this soft deadline to safeguard against potential malfunctions that may be involved in the website. CGI Federal, the same Montreal based agency that, until January 10, ran the health insurance exchanges, is also contracted to manage the Open Payments database. It is unclear whether the government's announcement Friday to change contractors for HealthCare.gov will have an effect on the Sunshine Act's online database. Washington Post reports that CMS plans to replace CGI on the $90 million health exchange contract with Accenture early next week.
The Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires drug companies to report data on the Open Payments website for transfers of value to physicians and teaching hospitals. The first Open Payments program cycle had a partial data collection period of five months (August 1 through December 31, 2013). All other Open Payments program cycles beyond 2013 consist of a full 12 months of calendar-year data to be collected and reported to CMS. Thus, the 2014 Open Payments cycle began January 1, 2014.
Data collection for the Sunshine Act began on January 1, 2014, but we still are waiting for the ability to register on the Open Payments system. While the submission start date for ongoing cycles will be January 1 going forward, as of now, no information has been released hinting at an exact registration start date. CMS published this broad registration timeline:
Furthermore, we worry about the security procedures that will be in place once registration is, in fact, opened. As the timeline below notes, sometime in mid-2014, physicians and teaching hospitals will be allowed to register and review the manufacturer's data.
It is concerning to think that members of the public—from the press, to outside lawyers, to other doctors—could potentially gain access to unreleased data by registering either their own information or a false identification. We hope that CMS and CGI Federal remain conscious of this possibility, and take the proper precautions with regards to security and identification of who attempts to gain access to the Open Payments system.
Policy and Medicine will post updates to the Open Payments registration timeline as they arrive, and monitor CGI Federal's status as lead contractor.