Feds Say Manufacturer Payments To Hospitals, Doctors Topped $7.5 Billion In 2015

But marginal increase suggests transparency program is working to temper remuneration.

Drug, device and other medical manufacturers reported $7.52 billion in payments and other financial support made to teaching hospitals and physicians in 2015, according to newly released data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

That’s nearly double the amount reported by manufacturers in 2013—$3.91 billion—but only a marginal increase over what manufacturers reported in 2014—$7.49 billion.

The slight uptick in payments last year suggests that the new government health care transparency initiative, the Open Payments Program, is tempering the amount of money manufacturers are paying—and teaching hospitals and doctors are accepting—to ostensibly prescribe or use their products.

“Transparency is empowering physicians to be purposeful about their financial relationships with companies, and there is a notable shift towards charitable contributions and away from other interactions such as honoraria and gifts,” Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., CMS deputy administrator and director of CMS’ Center for Program Integrity, said in a prepared statement.

The Physicians Payment Sunshine Act of 2010 requires medical manufacturers to report payments and other forms of remuneration such as ownership stakes or stock made to doctors and teaching hospitals to the federal government, which, in turn, makes them public through the Open Payments Program. Regulations implementing the law required manufacturers to start collecting provider payment data in 2013 and begin reporting them to CMS in 2014.

Of the $7.52 billion in payments in 2015:

  • $3.89 billion were research payments
  • $2.6 billion were non-research related payments
  • $1.03 were in ownership stakes or investment interests

CMS said 1,456 companies made payments to 618,000 physicians and 1,100 teaching hospitals.

The Open Payments Program database allows users to search for payments made by individual companies and payments received by individual doctors and hospitals.

For example, Medtronic USA reported $6.9 million in general payments, $6 million in research payments and no payments via ownership stakes or investment interests last year, according to the database.

Separately, the University of Minnesota Medical Center reported receiving $493,124 in general payments, $324,481 in research payments and no ownership stakes or investment interests last year, according to the database.