Adrian Oleck: Leader of the pack

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

As the DMERC’s senior and arguably its most respected medical director, chances are you’ll find Dr. Adrian Oleck’s fingerprints all over most medical policies for durable medical equipment. That kind of influence can’t be under estimated.

When it comes to deciding what a beneficiary is eligible for and what Medicare will and will not pay for, Oleck’s the key gatekeeper. DMERC medical directors all have their areas of interest and take the lead on certain issues, but in most instances, he’s the guy that writes DMERC medical policy. The other three medical directors often defer to his experience and knowledge. As such, his thinking affects not only Region B, where he’s served as medical director since 1993, but the three other regions as well. Because of his experience, CMS officials respect Oleck immensely. And while CMS has final say over medical policy, agency officials rely on the medical directors to write it. If the directors recommend it, CMS usually blesses it.

More so than his peers, Oleck confers intensely with the industry prior to crafting medical policy. It’s been said that once Oleck makes up his mind, the chances of convincing him otherwise are slim. That could be because Oleck bases his decisions on fact. For example, once during a coding meeting with providers, Oleck knew more about utilization numbers than did the industry. What’s more, his information was based on hard data, the industry’s on anecdote. His need to understand technology and how it relates to a clinical condition is impressive. If he’s unclear about that connection, he’ll call a manufacturer and talk to an engineer.

Among his peers, Oleck’s admired for his intelligence and phenomenal memory. Prior to joining Region B in 1993, Oleck worked from 1989 to 1992 as Medicare’s medical director in Indiana. He earned his medical license in 1977. As one government official remarked, Oleck brings a lot to the table.