- In October 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Open Payments website to comply with one of the main provisions of the Physician Sunshine Payment Act of the Affordable Care Act—disclosing all payments to physicians and medical institutions from drug companies.
- Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced a bill that would also make nurse practitioners and physician assistants part of the Open Payments database as a way to "close the loop" and bolster overall transparency.
- The senators feel that it's important to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants because they have prescribing power and are part of the healthcare system.
According to data from IMS Health, during the first five months of the year, nurse practitioners and physician assistants wrote 15% of all prescriptions.
The logical conclusion stemming from that type of prescribing power is that these healthcare professionals may be valuable speakers or involved in research for which they are paid. Because the Open Payments database was designed to track all payments coming from industry to healthcare providers and institutions, the proposed bill makes sense.
It's still not clear whether it will be passed. However, the 21st Century Cures Act will soon be up for a vote, and many of the transparency issues are included in that bill, too.