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HCFA out, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in under Secretary Thompson's reorganization plan.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson took the first step in a promised reformation of the oversight of the nation's Medicare and joint federal-state Medicaid programs by renaming the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Thompson said the new name reflects the increased emphasis of the agency on responsiveness to beneficiaries and providers and on improving the quality of care that beneficiaries receive in all parts of Medicare and Medicaid.

One of the CMS's first efforts will be $35 million national media campaign to be launched this fall to highlight the health care options and information sources available, including the new Web site - and phone support - (800) 633-4227. The agency will also expand the capacity for toll-free fine lines with call centers experts available 24-hours a day.

"We're making quality service the number 1 priority in this agency," Thompson said in a press release announcing the changes. "These sweeping reforms will strengthen our programs and enable our dedicated employees to better serve Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries as well as health care providers. We're going to encourage innovation, better educate consumers about their options and be more responsive to the health care needs of Americans."

One of the major changes is the creation of three new business centers within the agency.

The Center for Beneficiary Choices will focus on the management of the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program, including the development and implementation of payment policy and management of the Medicare carriers and fiscal intermediaries.

The Center for Medicare Management will focus on beneficiary education, providing beneficiaries with the information they need to make their health care decisions. This center also includes the management of the Medicare+Choice program, consumer research and demonstrations, and grievance and appeals.

The Center for Medicaid and State Operations will focus on programs administered by states, including Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, private insurance, survey and certification and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).

Thompson said one of the first actions of the CMS will be to develop a legislative proposal to be submitted to Congress that would provide for competitive bidding of claims processing services. Medicare contracts with private health insurance companies to process and pay Medicare claims. Collectively, these contractors employ about 22,000 individuals and handle more than 900 million Medicare claims each year.
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Comment:HCFA out, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in under Secretary Thompson's reorganization plan.
Publication:Transplant News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 30, 2001
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