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Bruce C Vladeck

The 2005 recipient of the Robert M. Ball Award

On June 21, 2005, Bruce Vladeck will be the recipient of the 2005 Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance.

Throughout his distinguished career in public administration, academia, and philanthropy, Bruce Vladeck has promoted and advanced the goals of social insurance while safeguarding the financing of social insurance programs. In his scores of articles, reports, and service on public committees, he has been a powerful, effective voice for protecting vulnerable populations.

Bruce received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan. After a brief sojourn at The New York-City Rand Institute, he began his academic career as an Assistant Professor of Public Health and Political Science at Columbia University. There, he wrote a landmark book, Unloving Care, which documented the abysmal state of nursing home care and rampant private profiteering, led the way to real nursing home reform, and held the federal government, states, and providers accountable for better quality of care.

Bruce's first full-time foray into public service landed him at the New Jersey State Department of Health where he led the design and implementation of the first hospital prospective payment system based on diagnostic-related groups, which would later serve as the foundation for Medicare's hospital payment system. He also administered the State's health planning, certificate-of-need, and HMO programs. Bruce then spent time as Assistant Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation prior to joining the United Hospital Fund of New York.

Bruce served as the President of the Fund for nearly ten years before he was called back into public service. His work at the Fund provided him the opportunity to advocate for the needs of inner city hospitals and well-being of the poor and elderly. Under his leadership, the Fund pioneered in developing programs to serve persons with AIDS and the homeless, and developed new primary care services for inner-city communities. It was during this time that he was asked to chair the Institute of Medicine study on “Health Care for the Homeless,” an important and controversial report.

In 1993, he was presented with an offer to effect major, positive change in health care throughout the United States. President Clinton appointed Bruce as Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

During his tenure, he revitalized agency morale and performance, oversaw the most extensive reorganization in the agency's history, and brought significant organizational and programmatic innovation to customer service, quality improvement, long-term care, and efforts to prevent and combat fraud and abuse. As the second longest-serving Administrator of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, Bruce changed the culture of the Agency to place the beneficiary at the heart of all activities, creating a Center for Beneficiary Services to institutionalize the beneficiary focus, a culture that has endured. Bruce proved to be an outspoken defender of Medicare and Medicaid, employing his deep knowledge and understanding of the health care system to go head-to-head with Congress and industry officials to protect and modernize the fundamental goals of each program. He played a major role in the enactment of the Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) provisions of the American Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and led HCFA-initiated reforms in quality improvement, contractor reform, and coverage expansion for low-income people through Medicaid 1115 waivers.

After his service at HCFA, Bruce was appointed to the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, a role that helped reinforce his reputation as one of the nation's most committed and articulate advocates for improving and expanding health insurance for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. He then went back to educating the next generation of health policy experts at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he also founded the Institute for Medicare Practice.

Currently, Bruce is a Principal at Ernst & Young LLP in its Health Sciences Advisory Services practice. He is a Founding Member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and ardent supporter of social insurance programs. Bruce currently chairs a study panel for NASI entitled Sharpening Medicare's Tools for Reducing Racial & Ethnic Health Disparities.