Admitting that his agency has made some mistakes, acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems laid out his agenda to reporters and promised to introduce more transparency in the way the CMS does business. Starting at the end of the month, for example, all corrective-action measures between the CMS and Medicare Advantage plans will be made public on the agency's Web site, Weems said.
If there's a policy, I want it done in the daylight, Weems said, although some actions may still have to be issued after the markets close, he said. The CMS' move to reject New York's state plan to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program was not a cocktail-hour press release, Weems noted. He acknowledged, however, that the agency could have done a better job in issuing a new policy that set limitations on expanding SCHIP to higher-income populations. The policy was criticized for being issued to state Medicare officials late on a Friday night in the middle of a congressional recess.
In other actions, Weems said he would continue to support quality and health information-technology initiatives, and would be issuing a report to Congress soon on value-based purchasing in hospitals. To get the message out on the Medicare Part D drug benefit, his goal is to inform the family members and others who take care of the beneficiaries using Part D, he said. The CMS is also close to issuing a report to Congress on premium withhold issues, which involve beneficiaries deciding to use their Social Security payments to pay for Medicare Part D and B premiums.
To enhance compliance and oversight of the agency, Weems said he is also meeting with every senior CMS manager to review contractual arrangements they have with agency partners, such as senior centers, area aging associations, pharmacies, hospitals, doctors and community orgnaziations. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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