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Hackbarth Stays at MedPAC as Chairman, Commission Gains Two New Members

By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

May 11, 2009 -- Glenn M. Hackbarth has been reappointed to a new term as chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced.

The agency also announced Friday that two new members have joined the commission and four more current members will stay for new terms.

The new members are Robert Berenson, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, and Herb Kuhn, a health care consultant specializing in Medicare and Medicaid issues. Berenson was appointed to a three-year term running through 2012, while Kuhn will replace Jack Ebeler, who resigned in March. Kuhn will serve out Ebeler's three-year term, which began in 2007.

The appointments were made by Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general and head of the GAO.

The appointments come as Congress wrestles with a health care overhaul in which the treatment of Medicare and attempts to rein in its costs will play a key role. MedPAC advises Congress on issues surrounding both Medicare Advantage and the Medicare fee-for-service plans, and its recommendations carry much weight.

Members reappointed to MedPAC are Mitra Behroozi, executive director of 1199 Service Employees International Union Benefit and Pension Funds; Karen R. Borman, professor of surgery at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine; Ronald D. Castellanos, a urologist at Southwest Florida Urologic Associates; and Bruce Stuart, a professor and executive director at the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. All will serve through April 2012.

"The delivery and financing of health care remain a serious concern for policy makers," Dodaro said in a statement. "In government, the Medicare program faces particularly difficult challenges." He said there were many qualified applicants for the MedPAC openings.

Berenson from 1998 to 2000 served as director of the Center for Health Plans and Providers at the Centers for Health Plans and Providers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). He was founder and medical director of the National Capital Preferred Provider Organization from 1986 to 1996 and assistant director of the White House domestic policy staff in the Carter administration.

Kuhn as a consultant specializes in Medicare and Medicaid issues and served at CMS during the Bush administration as deputy administrator from 2006 to 2009 and as director of the Center for Medicare Management from 2004 to 2006. He was corporate vice president for the Premier Hospital Alliance from 2000 through 2004 and worked in federal relations for the American Hospital Association from 1987 through 2000.

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