A recent study has revealed that during the last five months of 2013, Connecticut doctors received over $6 million in funds from pharmaceutical companies. Coming from the Open Payment program, the release is presented by the federal agency the Centers for Medicare & Medical Services, and presents information about the apparently interconnected financial relationships amongst U.S. doctors and the healthcare industry. The data comes from a federal database search authorized under a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This lengthy report outlines how $3.5 billion was received by U.S doctors throughout the country as payment compensation for travel fees, consulting/presentations, and other services provided to the healthcare industry between the period of August 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013. Over 5,000 Connecticut doctors were able to take advantage of these funds.
The Centers for Medicare & Medical Services
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is a federal agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency provides a broad assortment of services aimed at coordinating and observing Medicaid and Medicare programs nationwide. As part of its observation, the agency utilized a provision of the ACA that was aimed at providing consumers with a snapshot of the financial interactions between their physicians and the healthcare industry. The result was Open Payment, a national disclosure program, which recently released data that outlines the various forms that these financial relationships can take, including payments received for speaking fees, consultation fees, gifts, research and development fundings, travel, and meals. The data comes from mandatory reports that healthcare manufacturers and purchasing organizations were required to submit upon the transfers of value and ownership/investment interests to physicians.
One physician from Connecticut made the top 10 list for the amount of funds received from the healthcare industry. The physician is a doctor at UConn, and an associate professor of orthopedic surgery. This doctor received almost $165,000 from Arthrex, an orthopedic medical device company. The Open Payment release reveals that doctors in Connecticut, some of whom are also paid through Medicare and Medicaid funds, are receiving large amounts from the healthcare industry. For example, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is one of the main pharmaceutical companies that makes payments to Connecticut doctors. During the five-month period that is the subject of the new release, Boehringer made $261,000 in payments to Connecticut doctors.
In total, the data illustrates that Connecticut doctors were paid over $1 million in order to discuss certain drugs and to give presentations. This practice, known as “speaker’s bureaus,” is the process of medical device and drug companies seeking out credible doctors to provide training sessions and other services for their new models. Doctors perform training sessions and presentations and otherwise endorse the drugs or medical devices in exchange for travel expenses to and from presentation destinations, and also in the form of grants of research funding and/or consulting fee payments.
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