HCFA Name Change Suggestions Include HADES, HAPPY
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and HCFA Administrator Thomas Scully are hoping that changing HCFA's name "will symbolize more dramatic shifts" to make the $436 billion agency "more responsive to beneficiaries, physicians and providers," the Washington Post reports. During a lunch yesterday with Post editors and reporters, Thompson noted, "It's difficult to warm up to something called a HCFA. ... I can't change HCFA without changing the name." The agency is "disliked by nearly everyone except its beneficiaries," because its "too restrictive, requires too many forms to be filled out [and] takes ages to reimburse claims," the Post reports. Once a HCFA "critic," Thompson gained "newfound respect for the staff" and a desire to "help shape up the place" after spending a week in the agency's Baltimore office. Initially, Thompson had proposed calling the agency MAMA (Medicare and Medicaid Administration), but that idea was rejected by focus groups; Scully "joked" that "99.9% of women thought that was insulting." The Post reports that other name change ideas come from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who suggested TCMS (21st Century Medicare System) or HAPPY (Health Administered Personally and Professionally for You). Meanwhile, the staff of Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) suggested HADES, for Health and Death Evaluation Services. An in-house contest has also been launched to generate name ideas; the winner gets lunch with Scully. The new name will likely be announced this week or next, a Thompson aide said (Nakashima/Connolly, Washington Post, 6/12).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.