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2/20/2004

FDA Chief to Move to Medicare Agency

Cheryl A. Thompson

Barely a year after taking the helm at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Mark B. McClellan appears headed to another federal agency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

President George W. Bush today announced that he intends to nominate McClellan to be the administrator of CMS, a position vacated by Tom Scully on Dec. 15 after three years.

Scully departed one week after Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.

Among the many changes the law makes to Medicare is the addition, starting in 2006, of a prescription drug benefit for outpatients. To help beneficiaries afford their prescription medications before 2006, CMS has a June 2004 deadline for implementing a Medicare-approved prescription-drug discount card program.

Scott McClellan, White House press secretary and a brother of the FDA commissioner, said during today's briefing that the president's staff "will be moving forward quickly with this nomination."

As with the FDA position, a Senate committee will hold hearings to consider Mark McClellan for the position of CMS administrator.

McClellan, a physician and economist, joined the Bush administration in July 2001 as an economic adviser to the president.

The White House press secretary said Lester M. Crawford, FDA deputy commissioner, would again serve as acting commissioner until a new person is appointed to the agency's top position.