PROVISIONS RELATING TO ADMINISTRATION
(1) In general.—There is within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services a center to carry out the duties described in paragraph (3).
(2) Director.—Such center shall be headed by a director who shall report directly to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
(3) Duties.—The duties described in this paragraph are the following:
(A) The administration of parts C and D.
(C) Such other duties as the Secretary may specify.
(4) Deadline.—The Secretary shall ensure that the center is carrying out the duties described in paragraph (3) by not later than January 1, 2008.
(b) Employment Of Management Staff.—
(1) In general.—The Secretary may employ, within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, such individuals as management staff as the Secretary determines to be appropriate. With respect to the administration of parts C and D, such individuals shall include individuals with private sector expertise in negotiations with health benefits plans.
(2) Eligibility.—To be eligible for employment under paragraph (1) an individual shall be required to have demonstrated, by their education and experience (either in the public or private sector), superior expertise in at least one of the following areas:
(A) The review, negotiation, and administration of health care contracts.
(B) The design of health care benefit plans.
(C) Actuarial sciences.
(D) Compliance with health plan contracts.
(E) Consumer education and decision making.
(F) Any other area specified by the Secretary that requires specialized management or other expertise.
(3) Rates of payment.—
(A) Performance-related pay.—Subject to subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall establish the rate of pay for an individual employed under paragraph (1). Such rate shall take into account expertise, experience, and performance.
(B) Limitation.—In no case may the rate of compensation determined under subparagraph (A) exceed the highest rate of basic pay for the Senior Executive Service under section 5382(b) of title 5, United States Code.
(c) Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman.—
(1) In general.—The Secretary shall appoint within the Department of Health and Human Services a Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman who shall have expertise and experience in the fields of health care and education of (and assistance to) individuals entitled to benefits under this title.
(2) Duties.—The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman shall—
(A) receive complaints, grievances, and requests for information submitted by individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both, with respect to any aspect of the medicare program;
(B) provide assistance with respect to complaints, grievances, and requests referred to in subparagraph (A), including—
(i) assistance in collecting relevant information for such individuals, to seek an appeal of a decision or determination made by a fiscal intermediary, carrier, MA organization, or the Secretary
(ii) assistance to such individuals with any problems arising from disenrollment from an MA plan under part C; and
(C) submit annual reports to Congress and the Secretary that describe the activities of the Office and that include such recommendations for improvement in the administration of this title as the Ombudsman determines appropriate. The Ombudsman shall not serve as an advocate for any increases in payments or new coverage of services, but may identify issues and problems in payment or coverage policies.
(3) Working with health insurance counseling programs.—To the extent possible, the Ombudsman shall work with health insurance counseling programs (receiving funding under section 4360 of Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990) to facilitate the provision of information to individuals entitled to benefits under part A or enrolled under part B, or both regarding MA plans and changes to those plans. Nothing in this paragraph shall preclude further collaboration between the Ombudsman and such programs.