Will CME providers be included in the Sunshine provisions of health care reform? The Wall Street Journal looked at the question recently. The final House health reform bill includes CME providers and other third-party medical groups among the covered recipients whose payments from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry would be publicly disclosed—language referred to as the Physician Payments Sunshine provisions. The Senate Finance bill that is being merged now with the HELP committee also contained Sunshine provisions, but did not include third-party groups.
Yet representatives of industry-backed CME in Washington whom the Journal spoke to seem to understand that good transparency means broad transparency, and that broad transparency is becoming a requisite for credibility in the medical education industry.
Indeed, since the Sunshine Act was introduced in January 2009 as a stand-alone bill that would require drug and device companies to disclose all payments to doctors and others, acknowledgment of a need for national medical transparency standards has gained wide acceptance. The Institute of Medicine and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission have both recommended that third-party medical groups like CME providers be among those whose payments from industry should be disclosed; the IOM called for an end to all company support of such education programs within two years. As the Journal points out, companies such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have stopped direct support of for-profit third-party CME providers.
–Kate Petersen, PostScript blogger