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Dr. Nice: Top 10 vendor incentive donations

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Providers of prescription drugs, medical devices and other health care products and services are spending heavily to get doctors’ and hospitals’ attention.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made that point by posting a big batch of “Open Payments” program data — specific data on 4.4 million payments that vendors have made directly to doctors and hospitals or on behalf of doctors and hospitals to charities.

The database includes $3.5 billion in documented payments made during the last five months of 2013. The database also includes vendor expenditures on consulting fees, research grants, travel reimbursements and gifts, and it also includes charitable donations.

Users can use a spreadsheet filter on the site to search for specific doctors or hospitals; to look for specific types of providers or specific types of payments; and to sort the data. A user could, for example, create a list of the dentists in Iowa who received travel reimbursement money from drug manufacturers.

The database includes only data from honest vendors that properly documented the payments they made. CMS officials note that they created the Open Payments database to implement a health payment transparency provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and that they are making no judgments about which payments are beneficial or which may indicate the possibility of a conflict of interest.

In the future, CMS will post annual data, officials say. used the data to come up with a list of 10 biggest charitable contribution payments included in the database.

The biggest — for $80,000, on behalf of Adventist Health System-Sunbelt Inc. in Orlando, Fla. — was made by Agfa HealthCare Corp.

The 10th largest was for $13,500 and was made by Owens & Minor Distribution Inc. on behalf of Westchester County Health Care Corp. in Valhalla, N.Y.

The two smallest donations in the database were for 3 cents each. One was by Laser Specialty Medical L.L.C., and the other by Innovative Lasers L.L.C. Both were made to Vijay Athani, a Clairton, Pa., urologist.

10 biggest listed donations

Provider Vendor Amount
Adventist Health System-Sunbelt Inc., Orlando, Fla. Agfa HealthCare Corp. $80,000
Saltheesh Elangovan, Iowa City, Iowa Sunstar Americas Inc. $50,000
Bon Secours-St. Francis Medical Center Inc., Midlothian, Va. Owens & Minor Distribution Inc. $30,000
John Sperling, Rochester, Minn. Biomet Inc. $23,078
John Sperling, Rochester, Minn. Biomet Inc. $21,013
Steven McCarus, Celebration, Fla. LSI Solutions Inc. $20,072
Howard Salvay, Santa Cruz, Calif. Applied Medical Corp. $15,000
Stephen Sems, Rochester, N.Y. Biomet Inc. $14,507
Stephen Sems, Rochester, N.Y. Biomet Inc. $14,195
Westchester County Health Care Corp., Valhalla, N.Y. Owens & Minor Distribution Inc. $13,500
Source: CMS Open Payments database