- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson yesterday said his biggest regret was not pushing through sweeping changes in Medicaid during his four-year term.

“I really feel sad that what I didn’t get done is Medicaid,” he said yesterday at a press conference at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s office in Northwest.

Mr. Thompson, who left his post as head of the federal health agency last month to pursue jobs in the private sector, said he pushed for a “radical” transformation in Medicaid in an effort to change how state governments pay for the program.

Medicaid is the federal health insurance program for the poor that is jointly funded by federal and state governments.

States, which are struggling under rising Medicaid costs, on average paid about 40 percent of the $270 billion bill for the program in 2003, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Mr. Thompson said governors rebuffed his plan to have acute care funded by the states and long-term care paid for by the federal government.

Medicaid “can’t continue on the way it is. It needs a complete transformation,” Mr. Thompson said.

He repeated warnings he made upon leaving HHS, namely that the federal government has not done enough to adequately secure the nation’s food supply from terrorist attacks.

“I feel good about what we accomplished, but there is so much more we need to do in food security,” he said.

Mr. Thompson, who spent 38 years in government, served as a Republican Wisconsin governor before heading up HHS, which is now run by Secretary Michael O. Leavitt.

“If I was ever going to get into the private sector, I was going to have to do it now,” he said. Earlier this month, Mr. Thompson joined international law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP as a partner.

He also became the chairman and senior adviser for the Deloitte Center for Health Care Management and Transformation in Washington, part of New York auditing and consulting subsidiary Deloitte & Touche USA LLP.

Additionally, Mr. Thompson recently joined Logistics Health Inc., a La Crosse, Wisc., health services contractor, as president.

School officials at Harvard University have asked Mr. Thompson to teach a class on medical diplomacy, which uses health services and aid to garner support from the international community. Mr. Thompson said he is considering the job.

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