CMS proposes to end Sunshine Act CME exclusion

July 10, 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has decided to eliminate the continuing medical education (CME) exclusion for the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. The news was included in the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule.

The Sunshine Act stems from a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the Sunshine Act, drug and medical device manufacturers are required to report their financial interactions with licensed physicians – including consulting fees, travel reimbursements, research grants and other gifts. Any payments, ownership interests and other “transfers of value” will be reported to CMS for publication in an online database to be launched this fall.

CMS had initially given sponsorships for CME a pass in the Sunshine Act because it believed adequate safeguards were already in place. However, experts argued that an exclusion could give drug and device companies a loophole for manufacturers to influence physicians without disclosure. CMS felt that the exclusions made the agency appear to be endorsing corporate sponsorships of CME.  

Physicians are reminded that they can now register to review and potentially dispute their data reported by manufacturers of drugs and medical devices under the Sunshine Act. According to CMS, physicians will be able to begin reviewing the disclosure data sometime in July. Physicians will then have 45 days to review and dispute their data (plus an additional 15 days to resolve disputes). For more information on the two-step registration process, click here.


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