Medical director Oleck to retire: 'He's done an incredible job'

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - Dr. Adrian Oleck, who retires as Jurisdiction B medical director Dec. 30, will be remembered as strict but fair and always willing to listen to the industry's point of view, say those who worked closely with him.

"He always struck me as someone who is respectful of what others have to say," said industry attorney Asela Cuervo. "He's an institution, and when you lose that, you lose a lot."

Oleck has served as medical director since 1993 (Region B from 1993 to 2006, Jurisdiction C from 2006 to 2008 and Jurisdiction B from 2008 to present). He will be replaced by Dr. Stacey Brennan, who served as Region C medical director in 2004 and 2005.

"If we had to lose Oleck, at least we got Stacey," said Peggy Walker, a billing and reimbursement advisor for The VGM Group's U.S. Rehab. "Stacey won't let providers get away with anything, but she is fair."

Will she be as fair as Oleck? Will she work as hard? That remains to be seen, say industry watchers.

During his 17 years as medical director, the HME community developed a deep respect for Oleck--a respect, say industry watchers--that was mutual.

"I don't think he was against providers, and I know in lots of cases he was on their side," said industry billing consultant Jane Bunch "He had a job to do. He had directives from CMS, but at the end of the day I think he really cared, and I think he was in it for the right reasons."

For Oleck, the right reasons were threefold: To the best of his ability he tried to craft medical policy that fairly represented the interests of Medicare, beneficiaries and HME providers, said former Jurisdiction B Council chairman Tim Pontius.

"He and I would get into some royal disagreements at those council meetings," Pontius recalled. "The best part about disagreeing with Adrian was that you could go up after the meeting and shake hands. We agreed to disagree and respected each other for it."

Cara Bachenheimer called Oleck "extremely thoughtful."

"He's always taken the time to educate himself," said Invacare's senior vice president of government relations. "He reached out on a number of occasions to understand something--whether it was a complicated gear box or whatever. He'd want to know, 'What does this do? Why is it necessary.' We have not always agreed, but I've got to say he's done an incredible job to understand the underlying dynamics before making a decision."