Tomorrow, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission will vote on final recommendations to Congress for a public reporting system of physicians’ financial relations with drug and device manufacturers.

A draft version of the recommendations, laid out in a June 2008 report, outline a plan that would require pharmaceutical and medical device makers, as well as their subsidiaries, to disclose all payments totaling more than $100 annually to physicians and other prescribers, as well as those made to academic medical centers, professional medical associations, patient advocacy groups, and medical education communication companies (MECCS). The payments would be published on a public website maintained by the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Many of the MedPAC draft recommendations are a stronger and more comprehensive than provisions in the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a transparency bill proposed last year by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI).

The 17-member Medicare Payment Advisory Commission was created in 1997 to advise the U.S. Congress on issues affecting Medicare, including health care delivery, quality and access. Since Medicare does not have its own policy arm, the commission’s work is not only highly respected but has often served as a policy roadmap for recent Congresses around Medicare. We hope that these recommendations are approved Thursday, and that the 111th follows suit by passing the Sunshine Act.