CMS to undergo major restructuring

The agency still lacks a permanent administrator but has a new second-in-command. A new office will target program fraud.

By Chris Silva — Posted March 4, 2010

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A former top health official in Virginia has been tapped to oversee a newly formed Medicare department as part of a major restructuring at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Acting CMS Administrator Charlene Frizzera announced the changes Feb. 16 via an e-mail sent to agency staff.

Marilyn Tavenner, who had served as Virginia's secretary of health and human resources since 2006, is joining CMS as the principal deputy administrator under Frizzera and will head up the newly minted Center for Medicare. Jonathan Blum, director of the CMS Center for Medicare Management and the Center for Drug and Health Plan Choice, also will be a part of the Center for Medicare's leadership team.

Also new will be the Center for Program Integrity, which will realign the Medicare Program Integrity Group of the Office of Financial Management with the Medicaid Integrity Group of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations. That center will be led by Peter Budetti, MD, who is also a new hire. Dr. Budetti is considered a leading expert on health care fraud and has directed health administration and policy departments at three leading universities since 1990, Frizzera said.

In addition:

  • The Center for Medicaid and State Operations will be renamed the Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification, and it will be led by CMS Deputy Administrator Cindy Mann.
  • The Center for Strategic Planning will realign the Office of Research, Development and Information with the Office of Policy.
  • The Office of External Affairs and Beneficiary Services will realign the Office of Beneficiary Information Services with the Office of External Affairs.

The Obama administration still has not indicated when it might nominate a permanent CMS administrator, a position that requires Senate approval and has been vacant since October 2006. Frizzera, who will continue to serve as the agency's acting administrator and chief operating officer, expects the latest realignment to occur within two months.

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