CMS Administrator Scully resigns

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

WASHINGTON - Lauded for his straight-talk approach, former CMS Administrator Tom Scully stayed true to character even when announcing his resignation from the agency’s top spot.

“I’m checking out of Dodge,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post.

It was this frank and open communication style that first won Scully a place in the hearts of HME providers. Scully’s keynote address on his plans to make the Medicare program more responsive - Making CMS Equipment More Durable - at Medtrade in October 2001 earned him a standing ovation from the 200 industry members in attendance.

“Scully is very open and you always know where he is coming from,” said Cara Bachenheimer, Invacare’s vice president of government relations. “That’s a good thing. He may be delivering bad news, but you are going to hear it directly from him. He is not going to punt to someone else to deliver the bad news.”

Bachenheimer pointed to the creation of the open-door meetings for providers to ask questions and air concerns as a hallmark of his tenure. She also said that she hopes CMS staff will retain their newfound accessibility even after Scully’s departure.

“I would hope that the administrator who succeeds [Scully] has the same open-door policy and continues to make sure that the CMS career staff are communicating with the industry and receiving input before they formulate policy and implement it,” she said.

Scully announced his resignation December 3, closely following the passage of the landmark and controversial Medicare Prescription Drug Act. Scully had promised HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson that he would remain onboard until the bill was complete, despite openly looking for jobs in the private sector, reported the New York Times. His resignation took effect Dec. 15.

Although Scully, at times, battled with the industry over policy decisions, many say he can be applauded for his hard work and dedication to improving the Medicare system.

“I think Scully brought tremendous energy to the job, and that energy will be missed,” said healthcare attorney Elizabeth Hogue. “Whether you agree with or disagree with him, I think he was very committed to the job and took it very seriously and gave it his all, and it think that is a wonderful thing.”