A bipartisan Senate bill (S. 2153) introduced this week would expand reporting obligations under the Sunshine Act / Open Payments program to cover payments or other transfers of value provided to physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Right now, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers report on only their physician financial relationships, which could give rise to concerns that the industry will shift payments to other authorized prescribers, such as PAs and NPs.
Although these changes would result in a significant increase in tracking-and-reporting obligations for pharmaceutical and device manufacturers – not to mention paperwork for more healthcare providers to verify or challenge the expenses reported about them – certain state transparency laws already have reporting requirements that apply broadly to healthcare providers.
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the bill, which would cover payments to not only PAs and NPs, but also clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, and the proposed reporting requirements would go into effect in 2017.
With the proliferation of reimbursement and utilization data being released by the government, payment data related to NPs and PAs could give rise to additional scrutiny about whether financial relationships between the industry and prescribers affect healthcare treatment, including whether they may be influencing prescription patterns.