Americas: The CME Exclusion Remains
On a cold Halloween night while I walked the neighborhood with my children, dressed as Fred Flintstone, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its final physician fee schedule for 2015. In that 1,000-plus–page rule was a section describing changes to the reporting requirements for CME-related payments under Open Payments. CME payments were initially exempt under the act if they went toward education programs that were accredited by one of five specific bodies. Such bodies require strict firewalls between manufacturers and the educational activity.
CMS changed course over the July 4th holiday. They proposed to remove the CME exemption, but stated that education grants would be exempt from reporting if manufacturers remained “unaware” of the physician recipient for up to 18 months after an educational event. This interpretation was faulty, however, because manufacturers still may learn of a speaker’s identity in a variety of ways, including through simply reading a CME brochure.