Physician Payments Sunshine Act (Sunshine Act)
What is the Physician Payments Sunshine Act?
The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, also known as the Sunshine Act, requires the manufacturers of medical devices, drugs, and biologicals used in U.S. federal healthcare programs to disclose specific payments and valuable items given to teaching hospitals and physicians.
The Sunshine Act is a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and manufacturers submit their reports annually to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Examples of payments that must be reported include:
- consulting fees
- speaker payments
In addition to reporting the above payments and provided items, the group purchasing organizations (GPOs) and manufacturers must also report any ownership interests that the physicians and their immediate families possess.
Most of the information included in these reports is available on a public website that can be searched. Additionally, physicians can view their reports and challenge any data they view as inaccurate, false, or missing.
Why is the Sunshine Act important in healthcare?
The primary benefit of the Sunshine Act is the transparency it provides patients regarding the relationships between their healthcare providers and certain manufacturers.
Additionally, by making this information public, the Sunshine Act hopes to discourage conflicts of interest that may otherwise sway a physician to recommend a particular medication or medical device. This then ensures that patients are prescribed the best medication or medical device for their needs, not based on their doctor’s relationships.
The Sunshine Act also helps medical professionals identify external experts, as it provides insights into an expert’s affinity for industry collaborations and funding sources.