HCFA Changes Its Name

On Thursday, June 14, the Bush administration announced that it would rename the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While there seems to be no reason for this change, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson said the change symbolized his commitment to improving the agency''s services. Under the reorganization of the agency, CMS will be split into three divisions: the Center for Medicare Management (CMM), dealing with traditional Medicare, the Center for Beneficiary Choices (CBC) focusing on Medicare+Choice, and the Center for Medicaid and State Operations (CMSO), focusing on state-federal programs, including Medicaid and CHIP.

Mr. Thompson said that he discarded one other new name that clashed with President Bush''s vision of shifting some of the risk of insuring health care onto Medicare beneficiaries. Under the guidance of the renamed agency, at least two programs will launch this year to begin shepherding beneficiaries into HMOs, fee-for-service Medicare, Medigap and medical savings accounts. The first, a $35 million advertising campaign to promote those insurance options, will begin to target the elderly this fall. The other, a nationwide training program, will teach librarians how to guide Medicare beneficiaries to www.medicare.gov for information. Thomas A. Scully, the new administrator of the CMS, said that the Bush administration plans to move 6 million of the nation''s 40 million Medicare beneficiaries into HMOs by 2005.