Bush Nominates Scully to Lead HCFA
As expected, President Bush yesterday nominated Thomas Scully, currently the president of the Federation of American Hospitals, to head the Health Care Financing Administration, the Nashville Tennessean reports. Scully is a favored choice of hospital industry executives, who, the Tennessean reports, felt that HCFA under the Clinton Administration "burdened providers with too many regulations and was overzealous in efforts to root out fraud and abuse" (Russell, Nashville Tennessean, 3/23). Morning Edition reports that although "few outside of Washington, D.C." would normally care about the nomination, the news is especially important this year because HCFA is close to "ground zero" in the debate over Medicare and a prescription drug benefit. Morning Edition also reports that HCFA has a "bureaucratic bent" that makes it an agency many politicians and health care executives "love to hate."
However, there is bipartisan support for Scully's nomination, and approval from the not-for-profit sector. Scully has "toiled in the trenches" of health care, "Morning Edition" reports, both in the public and private sector, serving in the former Bush administration as a budget official and since 1995 as the president of FAH, where he lobbied to restore to hospitals Medicare funding that was cut in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. Former HCFA Administrator Gail Wilensky said that as Scully transitions from representing hospital interests to representing consumers, providers and taxpayers, he will be more than "willing to take everyone's interests into account." She added that Scully will "attack issues bedeviling the health care system." Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) said that Scully is a "problem solver," citing his help with guaranteeing health benefits to retired coal miners. John Rother, director of Legislation and Public Policy at the AARP, said that although Scully has a for-profit background, it is better to have a HCFA administrator who enters the job knowing the issues than to have one who learns as he goes. "Morning Edition" reports that Scully will leave FAH, where he earns "a half million dollars a year," to work for an agency that many on Capitol Hill would like to eliminate. One politician joked that the Senate should confirm him quickly, "before he changes his mind" (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 3/23). To hear the report, go to http://search.npr.org/cf/cmn/cmnpd01fm.cfm?PrgDate=03/23/2001&PrgID=3. Note: You will need Real Player Audio to hear the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.