Preparing for the Physician Payment Sunshine Act

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In March of 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ushering in an era of health care reform. Section 6002 of the bill, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, requires manufacturers of drugs, devices, biological therapeutics, and medical supplies to disclose to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services any payments or transfers of value to physicians. These reports are not meant to prohibit relationships between physicians and industry, but rather to generate a searchable public database illustrating the purpose of the payment, the entities involved, and the timing of each occurrence. Although the bill is meant to reveal physician-industry relationships, the question of how society at large and the medical field will interpret these data are unknown. The purpose of this article is to inform physicians of the components of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. We discuss several resultant challenges and suggest a framework for preparing for transparency reporting and its potential effects.

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