CMS takes Open Payments System offline again

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CMS has once again announced its Open Payments website will go offline, according to the American Medical Association.

The agency has said the site — an online portal listing payments from drug and device makers to physicians — will be unavailable at times on Aug. 30 and Sept. 5 for maintenance. This isn't the first time the portal has gone dark recently: CMS temporarily suspended the Open Payments portal earlier this month after a physician saw payments to another physician with the same name in his records. Soon afterward, CMS said it was taking the system offline "to investigate a reported issue." Physicians weren't able to review the data while the site was being fixed.

CMS brought the site back online on Aug. 18. Physicians — who are allowed to view the portal before the general public — originally had until Aug. 27 to review and dispute any information included in the database. That deadline has now been extended to Sept. 10. The portal is due to go public Sept. 30.

After bringing the site back online earlier this month, CMS revealed its investigation found manufacturers and group purchasing organizations submitted "intermingled data" for physicians with the same last and first names, according to CMS. This erroneous data — such as incorrect state license numbers or provider identifiers — falsely linked physician information in the system. However, CMS has enacted system fixes and revalidated all data in the system. Incorrect payment transactions have been removed.

The American Medical Association has said CMS' recent announcement about the site going offline again shows the portal isn't ready to go public. "It is clear that the government's website is not ready for prime time," said Robert M. Wah, MD, president of the AMA. "Today's news that the system will be offline for periods of time on Aug. 30 and Sept. 5 supports the findings of a recent informal online survey conducted by the AMA, where 68 percent of the respondents said they had an overall poor registration experience and 62 percent of physician respondents who were able to access the system found that data contained in the reports was not accurate."


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