Lifting the Veil on Payments to Doctors

Source from AARP Bulletin, written by Bill Hogan

Does your doctor take money from the drug or medical device companies to push their products? You really haven’t had a way to find out, though in recent years more than a dozen drugmakers have made public their payments to physicians-usually as a result of lawsuit-related settlements.

But full disclosure is on the way. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, part of the Affordable Care Act, requires all drug and medical device companies to bare details of their financial relationships with doctors and teaching hospitals, which could help you make informed decisions about medical advice. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expects to release the first round of data, covering the last five months of 2013, in September.

“The law is a real breakthrough in terms of disclosure,” says Keith Lind, a senior policy adviser with the AARP Public Policy Institute.

ProPublica, a nonprofit news group, tracker more than $2 billion in payments made to doctors by 15 drug companies for promotional speaking, research, consulting travel, meals and related expenses from 2009 to 2012. It found one Nashville psychiatrist who pulled in more than $1 million. In April doctors lost another slice of financial privacy when, for the first time, CMS made public how much Medicare paid doctors, beginning with 2012.

In April doctors lost another slice of financial privacy when, for the first time, CMS made public how much Medicare paid doctors, beginning with 2012. This gives consumers a new way to compare providers and treatments.