Mark McClellan leaving CMS

September 22, 2006

Mark McClellan, MD, who has led CMS for more than two years, is departing the agency in October.

Mark McClellan, MD, who has led CMS for more than two years, is departing the agency in October. Besides overseeing the launch of Medicare's new drug benefit, pushing for physicians to be paid on the basis of performance, and working to provide consumers with information about health care cost and quality, McClellan has also been a tireless proponent of health information technology. On his watch, the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research dispensed $166 million in grants to organizations that were developing electronic connectivity, and the Department of Health and Human Services changed the Stark rules to allow hospitals to help physicians acquire health IT. McClellan also worked closely with David Brailer, former National Health Information Technology Coordinator, to accelerate the adoption of EHRs.

It's rather ironic that the three officials who in 2004 helped launch the Administration's health IT initiative—McClellan, Brailer, and former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson—have all left for greener pastures. Perhaps two years is as long as anyone can ride the bucking bronco of U.S. health care.