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Thompson Pledges Fundamental HCFA Reform

Thompson Pledges Fundamental HCFA Reform

WASHINGTON—Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson asserted in a speech that the Bush Administration will pursue fundamental reform of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) as part of its efforts to modernize Medicare.

"President Bush has brought a new tone, a vibrant new feeling to our nation’s capital, and so much of what he has vowed to accomplish will be funneled through the Department of Health and Human Services," he said at the National Policy Conference of the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP).

Secretary Thompson noted that HCFA’s role has greatly expanded in recent years, which has required it to administer increasingly complex programs. As a result, it now oversees a huge budget that provides health care for more than 70 million Americans.

People ‘Fed Up’ With Paperwork

But the simple fact remains, he said, "patients and providers alike are fed up with excessive and complex paperwork. Rules are constantly changing. Complexity is overloading the system, criminalizing honest mistakes, and driving doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals out of the program."

He told the health plan administrators that HCFA needs "a thorough examination of its mission, the competing demands, and the available resources. We need to ensure that HCFA has the tools it needs to succeed so that we can streamline oversight and reduce the administrative burden that your organizations are facing."

Secretary Thompson promised action: "As Winston Churchill said, ‘I never worry about action, but only about in-action.’"

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