Conference-related Sunshine Act exemptions outlined by government

Conference-related Sunshine Act exemptions outlined by government

With less than a month to go before the provisions take effect, many professionals in the medical industry are still debating the standards and language used within the text of the Sunshine Act. In response, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently outlined many of the exemptions inherent in the reformed policies. Earlier this month, they released an extensive "frequently asked questions" document that answers many of the queries professionals have offered.

Many of the exemptions will surely come as a surprise to industry representatives, who expected required reporting standards for all of their expenditures. For example, the lodging, meals, and travel expenses for paid speakers will not have to be individually reported, as they will all be covered under a "Total Speaker Compensation" figure. However, some of the rulings may be seen as a negative by those in the field. For example, while payments made to medical residents don't have to be reported, the CMS has stated that those made to individuals working under a Fellowship program will be subject to required expense logging.

As exemptions are outlined, industry pushes for further clarification
Most of the arguments and decisions were centered around continuing medical education, or CME, events. Andrew Rosenberg, senior advisor to the CME Coalition, told the Medical & Media Marketing news source that he had "" class="body">requested the clarifications inherent in the CMS's document.

"We want folks to understand that accredited CME is the preferred choice of CMS, and if the event is done the right way, there is no need for reporting," he said. "We applaud CMS for providing this clear pathway."

Many offered worry that the provisions outlined the Act would limit the funding available to educational medical conferences, thus creating a dearth in that field. But, according to Rosenberg, these new policies - for the most part - will help ease the minds of affected professionals.

Still, extensive expense reporting is necessary for everyone in the medical industry, as the policies set in place by the Act become imminent. On August 1st, all medical professionals will be obliged to follow all the regulations set in place by the Sunshine Act, or they'll face extremely heavy fines. And for people like Rosenberg, the hope is that such reporting won't damage the educational side of the industry.

"The goal here should be to continue to encourage doctors to pursue CME and not create a barrier for uncertainty about the rules," he said.