US Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have introduced legislation that would require drug companies and medical device manufacturers to start reporting their payments to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as they do for physicians.
“Requiring companies to disclose gifts and payments made to other health care providers – not just doctors – is absolutely essential,” Blumenthal said in a statement Tuesday. “The Provider Patient Sunshine Act will rein in dishonorable behavior by increasing transparency and accountability across the entire healthcare industry.”
Grassley added: “It makes sense to apply the sunshine (provisions) to anyone who prescribes medicine.”
The proposed Provider Payment Sunshine Act, would require drug companies and device makers to publicly disclose payments to nurse practitioners and physician assistants for promotional talks, consulting and other services. The companies already report such payments to physicians in a national Open Payments database, under prior legislation co-authored by Grassley. The payments to nurse practitioners and physician assistants would be added to that database.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants write a significant number of prescriptions in the federal Medicare program, data show.
Recently, an advance practice registered nurse in Connecticut, Heather Alfonso, pled guilty to accepting kickbacks from the drug company Insys Therapeutics, in exchange for prescribing a potent painkiller intended for cancer patients. The payments to Alfonso – as a promotional “speaker” for Insys — were not reported publicly under federal rules because APRNs are not included in the reporting requirements.
A state initiative that would have required drug companies and device manufacturers to start reporting their payments to advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) this year has been delayed to 2017, C-HIT reported last month.