WASHINGTONThe Bush Administration has begun a
reorganization of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) by changing
its name and creating three new centers to administer its activities. The
agency is now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The three
new centers, according to CMS, "reflect the agency’s major lines of
The Center for Medicare Management will focus on the
traditional fee-for-service Medicare program, including such aspects as
developing and implementing payment policy and dealing with Medicare carriers
and fiscal intermediaries.
The Center for Beneficiary Choices will manage the
Medicare+Choice program, consumer research, grievances, and appeals, and engage
in educational efforts to better inform participants about making health care
The Center for Medicaid and State Operations will oversee
Medicaid and other programs administered by the states, including The State
Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement
"These sweeping reforms will strengthen our
programs," said Tommy G.
Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, in announcing the
restructuring. "We’re going to encourage innovation, better educate
consumers about their options, and be more responsive to the health care needs
Other parts of the reorganization include:
Reforming the contractor process to improve both the
quality and efficiency of the Medicare claims process.
Expanding the information line, 1-800-Medicare, to a
24-hour, 7-day-a-week operation.
Instilling "a new culture of responsiveness"
among CMS employees in dealing with beneficiaries, physicians, other health
care providers, the states, and lawmakers.
Launching a national media campaign to increase the
knowledge of Medicare beneficiaries about their options and the decisions they
need to make about health care.
"This is just the beginningmore changes are on the
Thompson said. "We’re going to keep fine-tuning this department so
Americans are receiving the highest quality health care possible."