Do State Accredited CME Providers Fall Under Sunshine Act Exemption Criteria?

Things were going pretty much as expected during the Shining a Light on the Sunshine Act session at the ACEhp 2014 Annual Conference last week, when the representative from CMS (whose name I failed to catch) dropped this little doozy out of the blue:

As you may recall, one of the exemption criterion for the reporting of transfers of value is that the program meet the accreditation/certification standards of the ACCME, AOA, AMA, AAFP, or ADA DERP. An individual in the audience asked that CMS clarify that state-accredited CME providers – who are accredited by their state medical society and not directly be the ACCME – do, in fact, meet that exemption criterion. Much to the surprise of everyone in the audience, her response was “no.”

The moderator, Jacob Coverstone (who did an excellent job parsing and clarify questions), attempted to rephrase the question differently, but the response was still “no.” An individual from the audience tried a different angle and stated that since an activity from a state-accredited provider is certified for AMA PRA Category 1 credit, it is meeting the AMA certification standards and should be exempt. Again, the response from CMS was “no.”

It seemed evident to me that the individual representing CMS was confused by and/or not familiar with some of the terminology that is second nature to many of us in the CME community (ACCME accreditation vs AMA certification, etc). In her defense, she was participating remotely via audio only, which comes with it’s own challenges. The session ended with an agreement that this was an issue that would need to be discussed in more detail and possibly result in an FAQ being submitted to CMS.

This is no small matter. According to the ACCME’s current list of CME providers, there is in excess of 1200 state-accredited providers, all of whom just discovered their CME activities aren’t exempt from Sunshine Act reporting requirements. Yikes.

Please keep in mind that I am paraphrasing and writing this post based on what I remember from the session. If you weren’t there, I encourage you to listen to the archived webinar (the specific Q&A on state-accredited providers comes near the end).

(UPDATE: There is a very thorough discussion of this issue over on the CME LinkedIn Group page. Well worth your time to read.)

As a side note, I did bring up the issue of individuals with dietary restrictions now being required to report their meals, which I blogged about a few weeks ago. My question to CMS was whether the CME provider had handled the issue correctly by informing the individual who requested a kosher meal that their meal would now need to be reported, when no other individuals meal was required to be reported. The response was “yes”, and then a lot of murmuring from the crowd. So there you have it. Good times all around.


5 responses to “Do State Accredited CME Providers Fall Under Sunshine Act Exemption Criteria?

  1. A huge issue. No one seems to understand that SMS accreditation is the SAME as ACCME. Need to get ACCME on this.

  2. Carly Harrington

    I appreciated your comment about the kosher meals during the session; I hadn’t heard anything to that effect… discrimination may be an unintended side effect of the gray reporting rules around meals.

    Hopefully the state medical societies will be assured that the AMA credit their activities carry do exempt them from reporting.

    • Thanks, Carly, and thanks for starting the LinkedIn discussion. Hopefully CMS will be able to offer a quick clarification, though I’m not holding my breath…

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