Medicare, Medicaid chief to leave

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Mark McClellan, who has spearheaded the biggest reforms in Medicare since its inception, has resigned, effective in October. McClellan notified the CMS community through an e-mail message today, and CMS confirmed it.

McClellan, a medical doctor and economist, has guided the reforms in Medicare mandated in legislation, including inaugurating a prescription drug plan for seniors, advocating for electronic prescribing and other health IT, and paying providers for improved performance.

He has been administrator of CMS, an agency of the Health and Human Services Department, since March 2004. CMS has not named a replacement, but Leslie Norwalk is deputy administrator.

McClellan said he planned to leave by early October. He has been on leave from his professorship at Stanford University during his government service.

"Our focus has been shifting the emphasis in our health-care system to better prevention, higher quality, better care coordination and personalized care and coverage for each person we serve," McClellan told reporters in a teleconference.

Before he leaves, McClellan said CMS is launching the My Health My Medicare program, in which seniors will have personalized online tools to let them know which preventive benefits that CMS covers are recommended for that beneficiary and additional support for choosing drug or health coverage that best meets their needs.

The program is an enhancement of the Medicare Personal PlanFinder that will let users personalize the information they can get from the site by narrowing their search to their individual needs and learn about drug plan and health plan choices, as well as Medigap options they can choose.

He has been an advocate of transparency in hospital and prescription drug pricing and quality, and has begun posting results so consumers can make their own decisions.

Under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2004, CMS implemented the biggest transition in drug coverage ever in this country, McClellan said.

'We've found and fixed start-up problems, we are delivering coverage at a cost at least 25 percent less than had been expected, and we are seeing beneficiary satisfaction rates of over 80 percent. For 2007, the benefit costs are going down further, and many drug plans will have lower premiums and options for enhanced coverage as well,' he said.

Prior to becoming CMS administrator, McClellan was commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, another HHS agency, from 2002. He also has served in the White House on the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

McClellan received his M.D. degree from the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology and a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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