President Bush has officially named Kerry Weems acting administrator for the CMS, even
though Weems formal nomination is pending in the Senate.
The longtime HHS official and deputy chief of staff to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt takes the reins from Herb Kuhn, who filled in after Leslie Norwalk left the position in July.
In a statement, Leavitt lauded Weems and Kuhn for their service. Weems, he said, has undertaken many challenges in managing large budgets and organizations, and (showed) success at every turn. The secretary also heaped praise on Kuhn, calling his expertise
and experience strong assets to the CMS.
The administrator spot has been open since Mark McClellan left the agency in October 2006.
In July, Weems faced tough questioning during his confirmation hearing before the Senate
Finance Committee, which wanted assurances from him that the department would not become
politicized under his watch. Weems also faced questions over the CMS handling of the
Medicare drug benefit, as well as private fee-for-service Medicare Advantage plans,
proposed payment rules for ambulatory surgical centers and the agency's resistance to State Childrens Health Insurance Program expansion.
Weems said that one of his goals at the helm of the CMS would be to establish a
value-based purchasing, or pay-for-performance, plan for hospitals and other providers.
-- by Matthew DoBias
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