CMS Announces Re-alignment to Focus on Three Key Areas

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media , February 18, 2010

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it is realigning, consolidating, and integrating functions to "allow the agency to better focus on three key areas: beneficiary services, program integrity, and strategic planning," CMS acting Administrator and Chief Operating Officer Charlene M. Frizzera announced to staff Wednesday.

In announcing the re-alignment, Frizzera said she will also continue in her interim role as acting administrator and COO.

As part of the changes, Frizzera named Marilyn Tavenner to a new principal deputy administrator position and Peter Budetti as deputy administrator for program integrity. Tavenner, a former nurse, once led Virginia’s Health and Human Resources and was an executive at the Hospital Corporation of America. Budetti, a pediatrician, was the founder and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University and was chairman of the Department of Health Administration and Policy in the College of Public Health of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, according to The Hill.

"CMS is firmly committed to its mission of ensuring effective, up-to-date healthcare coverage and promoting high value, quality care for our beneficiaries. We are very fortunate to have dedicated employees who are passionate about CMS’ mission and who work tirelessly to achieve it. Medicare, Medicaid, and the CHIP program now provide health insurance coverage to over 90 million Americans—a number that is expected to grow in the coming years. As part of our commitment to providing quality care and quality customer service to all people who rely on our programs, we continuously seek more effective ways of operating in order to meet the healthcare needs of our beneficiaries," she wrote in an e-mail to agency staff.

In addition to creating the principal deputy administrator role, the changes will create: The Office of External Affairs and Beneficiary Services; and four centers led by deputy administrators (Center for Medicare; Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification; Center for Program Integrity; and Center for Strategic Planning).

  • The Center for Medicare will combine Medicare fee-for-service, managed care, and Medicare Advantage.
  • The Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification is the former Center for Medicaid and State Operations.
  • The Center for Program Integrity is a combination of the Office of Financial Management’s Program Integrity Group and the Medicaid Integrity Group of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations.
  • The Center for Strategic Planning brings together the Office of Research, Development, and Information, and the Office of Policy.
  • The Office of External Affairs & Beneficiary Services realigns the Office of Beneficiary Information Services with the Office of External Affairs. CMS said this move will allow them to "integrate and better leverage its communication, call center and Web resources; ombudsman services; and extensive network of partners to enhance service to beneficiaries."

The realignment has not been approved by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, but CMS expects the realignment to happen within 60 days.

"This realignment will help CMS do our job better and help to improve service and quality for the millions of people who depend on our services," Frizzera wrote.

Les Masterson is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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