Americas: The CME Exemption Is Dead; Long Live the CME Exemption
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave continuing medical education providers both a trick and a treat on Halloween when it issued its final rules relating to Open Payments (formerly known as the Sunshine Act). The trick: It eliminated the CME exemption in its entirety. The exemption would have specifically excluded speaker honoraria at CME activities offered by providers accredited by five major accreditors from the list of financial transactions between pharmaceutical companies and docs that have to be tracked and publicly reported. Many in the accredited CME community had lobbied heavily for CMS to keep the exclusion in its final rules.
While it did give that rule the axe, CMS nevertheless appeared to have heard the hundreds of commenters to the public record who pleaded the case for keeping the CME exemption. Hence the treat: A statement that, under the language in pre-existing reporting rules, CME payments are not reportable as long as the pharma company whose grant is underwriting the activity “does not require, instruct, direct, or otherwise cause the continuing education event provider to provide the payment … to a covered recipient"—something that is not permissible under the listed accreditors' requirements anyway.