Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunshine Act Goes Live, Sort Of

According to ProPublica's Charles Ornstein--
--as the Sunshine Act (of the 2010 Affordable Care Act) finally goes live today, some 18 months after the scheduled first release of data, we still can't expect all that we had anticipated.

Recall that the Sunshine Act was supposed to list all payments from drug companies to individual physicians so that consumers could check on which doctors were receiving which sorts of money.

Ornstein lists the current complications:
  • The current release of information only covers August through December, 2013.
  • Data on payments related to new products, and sometimes new uses for existing products, are held back for as long as 4 years.
  • Some practitioners are not included--despite more frequent company payments recently to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, they're not on the bus.
  • Because of initial errors with similar physicians' names, etc. up to 1/3 of data is not being released currently.
  • Many different sorts of payments are included and they have different ethical implications--expect it to be a while before we can make sense of all the numbers.
  • As usual, expect errors.

Ornstein puts in a good word for ProPublica's own website, Dollars for Docs:
--which currently lists about half of all drug company payments to physicians and is current through the end of 2013.

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