- While it was designed to record all payments by drugmakers and medical device manufacturers to healthcare providers, the first round of CMS's Open Payments System failed to account for more than $1 billion in payments.
- CMS launched the Open Payments System with data on payments made between August 1, 2013, and December 31, 2013. During this period, CMS reports, manufacturers made 4.4 million payments to doctors and teaching hospitals, valued at $3.5 billion.
- However, there are some serious gaps in the data, with 40% of payments lacking the names of doctors or hospitals that received payments. Also, about one-third of records were withheld when the system launched because of data inconsistencies. The total value of the unpublished or flawed data is approximately $1.1 billion.
While transparency advocates have touted the release as a great victory, the Open Payments System has plenty of critics too. That includes the providers themselves; after all, 9,000 payments had been disputed by doctors and hospitals. CMS is also withholding data on 190,000 research payments for drugs and medical devices that have not been introduced the market, as required by the section of the ACA which required the formation of the database. This dilutes the value of the data, critics note.
The bottom line, say some experts and industry groups, is that while the attempt at transparency is useful, a lot of data is being withheld, and incorrect data remains on the site. Observers have also criticized the website's usability. And while CMS plans to re-release the data with correct names by next June, that's a little late. Hopefully, when CMS releases 2014 data, it will have learned from this experience and issue more complete, accurate data.