Sunshine Clarifications Stripped from 21st Century Cures Act

Special Report and Commentary from Jack Angel, Coalition for Healthcare Communication Education Foundation Executive Director


Nov. 30, 2016 – As you may have seen, the language proposed for clarifying the intent of the educational provisions of the Sunshine Act have been stricken from the 21st Century Cures Act, which is scheduled for a vote in the House today and in the Senate early next week.

This means that the distribution of textbooks and journal reprints by industry will continue to be reportable under the Sunshine Act and leaves reporting of company-sponsored continuing medical education (CME) under the direction of the CMS division of HHS. Currently, CMS exempts certified CME activities from such reporting.

Against the pleas of 100 national and state medical societies, as well as legions of other stakeholders in medical education, Senators Grassley and Warren – with a misguided view of the medical industry – have muddied the waters by forcing the stripping of these clarifying provisions from the 21st Century Cures Act.

From the beginning, the goal for the Coalition for Healthcare Communication was to lessen the bureaucratic demands of educating the medical community on the latest developments in the field. No one can deny that obstacles to that process may create a lapse in patient care somewhere along the line. The suggestion that a reprint, to pick an extreme, was a “gift” and should be reported to the American public is representative of how distorted our political process has grown today.

It makes me mad as hell and inspires me to work harder to bring about change in our system. We start with the hope that a new Administration with new players may have a more respectful view of the contributions industry makes to healthcare. We hope that lessening the burdens placed on industry by uninformed bureaucrats lacking any desire to make our systems work more smoothly will prevail.

Clearly, we have to stop and learn lessons from these proceedings. A  message has been delivered. But it is certain that as long as our ultimate focus is on improved patient care, we will have a mission that is worthy and contributes to the good of medicine. So we are already on a course to a brighter day tomorrow.