This from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/15/po...gewanted=print
June 15, 2001
Medicare Agency Changes Name in an Effort to Emphasize Service
By ROBERT PEAR
ASHINGTON, June 14 — The Bush administration announced today that it had renamed the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid in the hope of repairing its image as a bureaucratic behemoth.
The agency, which provides health care to 70 million Americans, will be known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is now the Health Care Financing Administration.
Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, said the change symbolized his commitment to improving the agency's services to the public, including beneficiaries, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.
"We're making quality service the No. 1 priority," Mr. Thompson said.
But it will take more than a name change to alter the culture of the agency, which has been harshly criticized by members of Congress from both parties, who describe it as a rigid, heavy-handed regulator, more eager to set prices than to encourage competition or reward efficient providers of care.
Mr. Thompson said he had considered naming the agency the Medicare and Medicaid Administration — MAMA, for short. But, he said, women found that acronym insulting. Also, it reinforced an image of the agency as paternalistic, or in this case maternalistic, at a time when President Bush wants Medicare beneficiaries to take more responsibility for their health insurance options.
The health secretary said the rechristened agency would be more businesslike. Later this year it will expand a toll-free telephone number to answer questions about Medicare to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number, 1-800-MEDICARE (1- 800-633-4227), now operates from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
The agency will also conduct a $35 million national media campaign this fall to highlight the types of health insurance available to the elderly. These include health maintenance organizations, fee-for-service Medicare, private insurance to fill gaps in Medicare and medical savings accounts.
Thomas A. Scully, the new administrator of the agency, said last week that the Bush administration would try to double the enrollment of Medicare beneficiaries in H.M.O.'s within four years. Slightly more than 14 percent of the 40 million beneficiaries — 5.7 million people — are now in such health plans.
Mr. Scully said he hoped to have 30 percent of elderly patients in managed care by 2005, but he emphasized that consumers needed more information to make wise choices.
Mr. Thompson said today that the government would develop a program to train librarians nationwide so they could help beneficiaries get information about Medicare on the Web at www.medicare.gov.
The results of annual inspections for nursing homes are already available on the Web, and federal officials hope to make more data available to help consumers evaluate health care providers of all types.