FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan Candidate for CMS Administrator Position
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson has lobbied for FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan to become the new CMS administrator, the Wall Street Journal reports (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 1/26). Former CMS Administrator Tom Scully resigned last month and accepted a position in the Washington, D.C., office of the Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird. Dennis Smith, who had served as director of the CMS Center for Medicaid and State Operations, has served as acting CMS administrator since Scully resigned (California Healthline, 12/19). Supporters maintain that McClellan, a physician with a doctorate in economics, would "give the White House a much-needed, credible public face" in efforts to publicize the benefits of the new Medicare law (HR 1), the Journal reports. In addition, McClellan is "respected by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, which could smooth" his confirmation in the Senate, according to the Journal. "It is unclear," however, whether McClellan would want to leave his FDA director position, which he has held since late 2002, the Journal reports. Other candidates for CMS administrator include William Winkenwerder, a physician and former health insurance executive who administers the Tricare program as assistant secretary of defense for health affairs (Wall Street Journal, 1/26).
In related news, HHS has hired Julie Goon, senior vice president for federal legislative affairs at the American Association of Health Plans-Health Insurance Association of America, to serve as the first special assistant to the secretary and director of Medicare outreach. As special assistant, Goon will lead efforts to inform beneficiaries, health care professionals, consumer groups and others about the new Medicare law, "HHS' progress in implementing it and what its impact on them will be," CongressDaily reports. Goon also will inform HHS about public reaction to the law (Congress Daily, 1/23).
Meanwhile, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is considering an offer to leave Congress to head the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Washington Post reports (Ahrens, Washington Post, 1/24). PhRMA President and CEO Alan Holmer, who has served as the pharmaceutical industry lobbying group's president since 1996, earlier this month announced that he would resign after a successor is chosen later this year (California Healthline, 1/16). The trade group recently offered Tauzin the position, along with a compensation package that would be "the biggest deal given to anyone at a trade association," according to an unnamed source, the Post reports. If Tauzin accepts the position, a special election likely would be held to fill his seat in the House; the deadline for filing for a special November election is August, according to the Post. Tauzin, who is chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was one of the authors of the recently passed Medicare bill (HR 1) (Washington Post, 1/25). Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is considered the "heir apparent" for Tauzin's position and has been "quietly piecing together a staff for the Energy and Commerce Committee," Roll Call reports (Mullins, Roll Call, 1/22).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.