Free Healthcare IT Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Get all the latest Health IT updates from Neil Versel for FREE!

COO Charlene Frizzera to head CMS in short term

The news out of Washington is that current Chief Operating Officer Charlene Frizzera will serve as interim head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after acting CMS boss Kerry Weems steps down one week from today. This news comes to us from The Pink Sheet Daily, via the ISPE Blog, and reportedly based on an internal e-mail sent Friday by HHS Chief of Staff Rich McKeown.

The thing is, I know nothing at all about Frizzera, and could not find a bio online. She did win an intragovernmental award in 2006, though. Anyone care to help fill in some details?

The report also has Assistant HHS Secretary Charlie Johnson becoming acting HHS secretary “between January 20 at noon and the time when Secretary-designate Daschle is sworn in.” That might not be for long. In past transitions, the Senate generally went to work on confirming Cabinet secretaries almost as soon as the new president’s inaugural address ended, and swearings-in happened in short order following confirmation.

We still do not know who will be the permanent CMS boss.

January 13, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

MGMA wants standard patient IDs within a year

As promised at its annual meeting back in October, the Medical Group Management Association on Monday introduced a plan to standardize patient ID cards—on a very aggressive timeline.

The program, called SwipeIT, is an effort to convince health plans—Medicare included—as well as vendors and care providers to create standardized, machine-readable IDs by the beginning of 2010. Here is a sample.

MGMA estimates that this plan could reduce administrative waste by $1 billion a year. Magnetic-stripe cards following standards set by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange would cost 50 cents each to replace the more than 100 million health insurance cards currently in circulation. In other words, a $50 million investment would realize $1 billion in annual savings.

A big question is whether some might see this as a move toward a national patient ID number, even though that is not what MGMA is proposing. The perception alone might cause some to balk. And then there’s the tricky issue of achieving consensus on something—anything at all—in healthcare administration.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.