Sunshine Act FAQ's for Patterson Customers
- National Physician Payment Transparency Program Open Payments website has several resources for physicians and teaching hospitals to learn more about the Sunshine Act, including Frequently Asked Questions.
- The American Dental Association has posted FAQs available to its members.
- American Medical Association website American Medical Association website, including a downloadable brochure.
1. What is the Sunshine Act?
The Physician Payment Sunshine provision (“Sunshine Act”) is a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to report payments made to “physicians,” including dentists, to the federal government. The Sunshine Act also requires companies to report any physician ownership or investment interests.
The government intends to put all this information on a public website so that patients can access it to assess whether their physicians' treatment recommendations may be influenced by financial incentives they may be receiving.
2. What types of payments must be reported under the Sunshine Act?
Under the Sunshine Act, health care companies, including Patterson and many of its competitors, must report payments or transfers of value made to dentists with some exceptions, such as discounts and rebates provided in the ordinary course of business. By way of example, the Patterson Advantage program is structured as a rebate program, so redemptions under that program are not reportable.
Reportable payments do include, however, the cost of meals provided to dentists in any setting, as well as payments made as part of a contracted service such as speaker programs, advisory boards, and consulting. In addition to meals and compensation, other reportable transfers of value provided to a dentist would include travel, educational items, reimbursements, etc.
The Sunshine Act does not technically require that payments of less than $10 are reported unless all payments to a particular dentist aggregate to over $100 annually; however, because it can't be known whether that $100 aggregate is reached until the end of the year when all of the payment information is aggregated, all potentially reportable payments, no matter how small, must be recorded during the year.
3. When are companies required to begin recording payments?
Companies were required to begin recording payments on August 1, 2013.
4. Can Patterson decline to report these payments?
Patterson must comply fully with the new federal law. There is no opt-out option for the report if we make payments or provide meals or other items of value to you from the start of the reportable period through any later dates.
5. Where will reported payments be posted?
The Sunshine Act requires that the reported payments are published by the federal government for public access through a website in or around September of 2014. The Sunshine Act does not require companies to publish payments on their own websites, and Patterson currently has no plans to do so.
6. What about my hygienists and office staff?
Currently, the Sunshine Act only requires companies to report payments made, directly or indirectly, to “physicians,” again which is defined to include dentists. However, some state marketing disclosure laws, such as those of Vermont and Massachusetts, require disclosure of payments to a broader group of recipients, including hygienists and office staff. For states with these types of disclosure requirements, these payments will not be preempted by the federal law, and thus will also be reportable, until further guidance is provided by the various states and/or the federal government.
7. How will Patterson ensure that the data it submits is accurate?
Patterson is committed to ensuring that the data it submits under the Sunshine Act is as accurate as possible and is exploring processes to validate all payment information it records before submission to the government. Additionally, the government has indicated it will provide physicians with a preview period during which the information can be reviewed for accuracy, before it becomes public.
8. If I do not receive any transfer of value from Patterson, will I still be on the report?
If your interaction or engagement with Patterson does not have a transfer of value associated with it, then that interaction or engagement will not be disclosed for inclusion on the report.