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 business."
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 decisions.
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 Amendments.
"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 of Americans."
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 way," Secretary Thompson said. "We’re going to keep fine-tuning this department so Americans are receiving the highest quality health care possible."