The murky world of “payoffs” to doctors from drug and medical device companies will soon become transparent. The Physicians Payment Sunshine Act, part of the new Affordable Care Act, mandates that all drug and medical device companies reveal details of their financial relationships with doctors and teaching hospitals.
How pervasive is this “payoff” practice? Well, Pro-Publica, a nonprofit news group, has checked out more than two billion dollars in doctor payments by 15 drug companies. How does it work? The payments are for research, travel, promotional speaking, consulting, meals and corollary expenses. These “thank yous” were in the years 2009-2012.
“This new law is a real breakthrough in terms of disclosure,” said Keith Lind, a senior policy adviser with AARP’s Public Policy Institute. They can help you make informed decisions about the medical advice you receive.
The initial round of payment data should be released in September. It will cover the first five months of 2013. We’re not sure if one particular Kentucky psychiatrist whose “goldmine” was over $1 million will be included. But it should help the long-curious consumer to compare providers and treatments. The more glowing light on these finances, the better you and I can see.