CMS Announces Launch of Open Payments Database: $3.5 Billion Paid to Physicians and Teaching Hospitals

October 2, 2014 | By Lawrence J. Tabas

The Open Payments database (the “Database”) is now live, and the first round of data is available to the public on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) website. This first round of data reflects “nearly 4.4 million payments valued at nearly $3.5 billion attributable to 546,000 individual physicians and almost 1,360 teaching hospitals,” according to a recent CMS press release (the “Press Release”).

The Database was created as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to report to CMS certain information about payments to physicians and teaching hospitals. CMS Administrator, Marilyn Tavenner, stated: “CMS is committed to transparency and this is an opportunity for the public to learn about the relationships among health care providers, and pharmaceutical and device companies.”

In the health care industry, financial relationships are heavily scrutinized, and the Database might make it easier for enforcement authorities and others to find violations of applicable laws, such as the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. However, according to the Press Release, CMS recognizes that not all financial relationships are inappropriate, and it is the intent of CMS to work closely with industry stakeholders to better understand the financial relationships reflected by the Database. Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Program Integrity at CMS stated that “while these data could discourage payments and others [sic] transfers of value that might have an inappropriate influence on research, education, and clinical decision-making, they could also help identify relationships that lead to the development of beneficial new technologies.”

The Database has been the subject of much debate from major stakeholders in the health care industry. For example, some stakeholders, such as the American Medical Association (“AMA”), have raised concerns about the accuracy and the context of the data. To read the AMA’s press release regarding the Database, click here.  

The initial Database contains payment information from August through December 2013. Going forward, the Database will include annual reports covering twelve months of payment data. CMS also plans to add additional tools that will make searches and analysis of the data easier for the public.

To view the Open Payments database, click here.

To read the CMS Press Release, click here.

About the Authors

Lawrence J. Tabas


Lawrence is the Chair for Obermayer’s Health Care Law Department and Election Law Practice Group. Lawrence’s Health Care Law legal experience includes the representation of Pennsylvania County governments in Behavioral Health Managed...

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