Thomas, Grassley Attack HCFA Boss For Slow Service

Two prominent members of Congress have taken off the kid gloves to attack Health Care Financing Administration Administrator Nancy-Ann DeParle for delaying implementation of several portions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

Rep. Bill Thomas of California, chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, criticized DeParle for delaying the per-episode home health prospective payment system, the outpatient prospective payment system and the fiscal year 2000 updates for the physician fee schedule and hospital payment system. “It’s not fair to seniors to promise them more health care choices and deny them the means to make those choices,” Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is up in arms about HCFA’s announcement that only 5.5 million beneficiaries will have handbooks on the Medicare+Choice program by November. He asked HCFA for a formal explanation of how it intends to use the $95 million appropriated for beneficiary education this fiscal year. Grassley is annoyed that HCFA will send out newsletters to the remaining 33 million beneficiaries instead of the Medicare & You 1999 handbook.

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