HCFA Renamed – Brief Article
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Agency’s New Moniker Signals Change in Health Care Philosophy, Thompson Says
Washington In a first step toward the previously announced initiatives to overhaul the Health Care Financing Administration, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced HCFA’s new name: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
According to the department, the new name reflects the agency’s increased emphasis on responsiveness to beneficiaries and providers, and on improving the quality of care that beneficiaries receive in all parts of Medicare and Medicaid.
“We’re making quality service the Number One priority in this agency,” Thompson said. “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.”
American Association of Homecare president Thomas Connaughton applauded the name change. “We are pleased to see the administration begin to actively reform HCFA,” he said. “Along with the changing of its name, we sense a new attitude is arising at HCFA – a more provider-friendly attitude.”
A more open one, too. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will launch a $35 million national media campaign in the fall highlighting the health care options and information resources available to beneficiaries, including www.medicare.gov and 1-800-MEDICARE. It will also expand the capacity of the toll-free phone line with call center experts available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and develop a program with public libraries to train librarians to help Medicare beneficiaries gather information about Medicare at www.medicare.gov.
“We need to make sure that the people who are covered by Medicare know exactly what choices they have for their health care coverage,” said Thomas Scully, Medicare & Medicaid administrator. “Too many consumers just don’t understand Medicare coverage options and the costs associated with them, from their Medigap options to Medicare+Choice to the cost of prescription drugs. We need to get that information to them and their family members, while working closely with the doctors and other health care providers who give them medical care.”
“This is only the beginning – more changes are on the way,” Thompson added. “We’re going to keep fine-tuning this department so Americans are receiving the highest-quality health care possible. Our commitment to excellence is unwavering.”
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