Health system CEO joins MedPAC _lowres

Warner Thomas, president and chief executive officer of the Ochsner Health System

Warner L. Thomas, president and chief executive officer of the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, has been appointed to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

MedPAC advises Congress on issues affecting Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors. The 17-member commission’s duties include examining payments to providers as well as analyzing access to and the quality of health care. Thomas’ term expires in 2017.

“I think the whole focus for MedPAC is just to really make sure we make good decisions surrounding the Medicare program so that it’s sustainable and it’s fiscally responsible,” Thomas said.

Thomas was nominated by the American Hospital Association and the American Association of Academic Medical Centers. The U.S. Government Accountability Office appointed Thomas after a thorough background check.

Thomas was named Ochsner Health CEO on Sept. 1, 2012. He had served as president and chief operating officer for the previous 14 years. The health system has more than 14,000 employees and 900 physicians in 10 hospitals and more than 40 health centers throughout southeast Louisiana.

Warner said Ochsner’s scale and importance on a national level — the system has more than 300 ongoing research trials — and the scope of its operations in rural and urban hospitals, post-acute care and academic medicine helped him secure the spot on MedPac.

The American Hospital Association issued a statement Friday saying it was pleased with Thomas’ appointment.

“He is extremely qualified and will provide a very important perspective as the commission conducts its work advising the Congress on Medicare payment policy,” the association said.