MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this week sent an open letter to the Obama Administration, expressing "disappointment" that health regulators have yet to issue final rules on the Sunshine Act, delaying efforts to make relationships between healthcare providers and the healthcare industry more transparent.
"It will be 3 years in March since the Sunshine Act was enacted," Grassley said. "Three years is a long time for pretty straightforward regulations."
Grassley helped co-author the Physician Payments Sunshine Act and introduced it Congress in 2009 with co-sponsor Herb Kohl (D-Wisc).
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid are now 15 months overdue on issuing final rules, possibly pushing data collection and the publication of the financial relationships between doctors and medical device and drug manufacturers back another year, Grassley noted.
"While many interactions between medical professionals and the pharmaceutical and medical device industry are vital to the advancement of medical science and patient care, the Sunshine Act was developed after numerous investigations and hearings revealed that large sums of money were going to physicians for questionable purposes," Grassley wrote in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew. "These delays are disrupting the considerable efforts of the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers that are already investing in systems to comply with the law, as well as voluntary efforts of universities and even the National Institutes of Health to promote more transparent relationships between physicians and industry."
Grassley’s is the latest in a series of letters sent to healthcare regulators calling for action on the Sunshine rules. Earlier this month AARP and 18 other healthcare advocacy groups warned CMS of the "significant consequence for healthcare system" due to the ongoing delays. Last month medical device maker Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) joined forces with the Pew Charitable Trusts to push Medicare regulators to quickly adopt new transparency laws governing industry relationship with healthcare providers.
The new sunshine laws were put in place in the Affordable Care Act and would require medical device makers and other healthcare manufacturers to report financial ties to physicians and hospitals. The data would be made available in a public database.
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