|A debate prepper. Period.|
Bush taps Weems for Medicare chief
If confirmed by the Senate, Weems would succeed Mark McClellan, who resigned in October. Weems is deputy chief of staff to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. He also has served as an acting assistant secretary overseeing budget and technology issues.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the agency that oversees federal health programs for the elderly, disabled and the poor. It accounts for about a fifth of all federal spending.
The president also is nominating Tevi David Troy to be deputy secretary at HHS. Troy is the deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy.
"Both bring a broad array of knowledge, management experience and expertise that will enhance our ability to advance effective policies to improve Americans' health," Leavitt said Thursday.
Medicaid provides health coverage and services to nearly 53 million low-income people. The government spends about $200 billion on the program. States provide abut 43% of the money for the program.
Medicare provides coverage for about 43 million elderly and disabled people. The Medicare program's expenses totaled about $408 billion in 2006; costs are expected to rise rapidly in coming years.
Weems has been one of Leavitt's most trusted advisers on budget issues as the administration tries to restrain the pace of federal health spending.
Troy had primary responsibility for debate preparation in President Bush's re-election campaign. He also has served as the president's liaison to the Jewish community. He began working in the Bush administration at the Labor Department.
McClellan joined a center for regulatory studies run by two think tanks in Washington, the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute. An economist and physician, McClellan helped put in place the Medicare prescription drug benefit.