KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sunshine Act Website Marked By Technical Problems

Modern Healthcare reports that this website, which is designed to report industry payments to physicians and teaching hospitals, was temporarily suspended last week but is scheduled to be publicly accessible Sept. 30. Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register explores issues related to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

Modern Healthcare: Is the Sunshine Act Website Repeating HealthCare.Gov’s Mistakes?
A mix-up of information about two physicians with the same name in different states has opened a window on wide-ranging technical problems the CMS is facing with its Open Payments website reporting industry payments to doctors and teaching hospitals. Registration for the system, which was scheduled to be publicly accessible Sept. 30, was temporarily suspended last week after a Kentucky doctor discovered that his data had been commingled with data on another doctor with the same name. The site that was shut down had been open only to healthcare providers since last month. It allowed them to check the information that manufacturers were reporting about them and dispute any errors (Tahir, 8/13).

Des Moines Register: There Is A Database, But It Costs To Search
The case of a former Iowa doctor accused of malpractice in West Virginia illustrates why Americans should have easier access to information about physicians' histories, a national advocate said. Lisa McGiffert, an analyst for Consumers Union, said it's too difficult for the public to find out if a doctor in one state has been in trouble in another state. She expressed sympathy for relatives of Asa Carson, who said they had no clue that Dr. Robert Finley III had been accused of incompetence in Iowa. "If I'm in West Virginia, and I'm going to see this doctor, how the heck am I supposed to know he was from Iowa?" McGiffert said. The most likely place a West Virginia resident would look for information would be that state's medical board, McGiffert said. But Finley's West Virginia record includes no notice of serious allegations filed against him in 2010 in Iowa (Leys, 8/14).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.