WASHINGTONHealth and Human Services Secretary Tommy
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.’"