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Medicare administrator visits, shares goals at health care forum

By By Steve Gillespie/staff writer
Jan. 9, 2002
Health care professionals in East Central Mississippi are hoping for a "kinder, gentler" relationship with Medicare and Medicaid under the Bush administration.
Tom Scully, administrator of the Center for Medicare &Medicaid Services, said Tuesday he is steering the agency in that direction. Scully was in Meridian on a statewide tour to inform health care providers about the agency's changing attitude.
Scully, who spoke at a health care forum at Meridian Community College, said he wants to help beneficiaries understand the CMS programs and give health care providers "straight answers" to questions.
CMS, formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration, is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agency that oversees the joint federal-state Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance programs.
Scully said open door policy groups have been created to answer questions and concerns from doctors, nurses, pharmacists, insurance providers, rural health care providers, hospice and home health care agencies and others.
J. Allen Tyra, associate executive director of Riley Hospital, said he welcomes the changes Scully described.
Scully pledged that the agency would be tough on providers cheating the program and defensive of those doing a good job.
Dr. John J. McGraw, an orthopedic surgeon from Laurel who attended the forum, said health care providers must be assured they will be considered innocent until proven guilty of fraudulent practices.
McGraw, past president of the Mississippi Orthopedic Society, said the Clinton administration went overboard in policing suspected fraudulent practices.
Scully was introduced at the forum by U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, the Republican 3rd District congressman.