Editorial: Feds Fumble on Law Aimed at Doctors

Publication: Minneapolis Star Tribune


10/10/2011 - Inexcusable federal foot-dragging is delaying the rollout of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act -- a landmark law outing doctors' often lucrative financial ties to industry.

Less than three months before drug and medical device manufacturers are slated to start complying with the law, it's become clear that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has not made this important accountability measure an agency priority. CMS is charged with writing the rules and regulations that translate the law's language into practical guidelines. The agency is woefully behind.

CMS blew past an Oct. 1 deadline for drafting the regulations, according to an Oct. 3 letter signed by two of the Sunshine Act's champions -- Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis. When CMS might complete this important task is unclear.

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PROGRESS NEEDED

"A huge amount of work has gone into getting the agreement between all the stakeholders that public transparency is the right thing. Companies embraced it. Consumers embraced it. We can't drop the ball now that CMS has to implement the law."

Allan Coukell, director of medical programs, Pew Health Group.

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Read the full editorial, Feds Fumble on Law Aimed at Doctors, on the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Web site.

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