Jonathan Blum, CMS deputy administrator, resigns post

Jonathan Blum, Medicare director and principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has resigned the post he's held for five years, Reuters reported.

Blum, who will step down on May 16, had a big role in reforming Medicare under the Affordable Care Act. He also oversaw the public release of Medicare physician payment data, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Medicare claim database included about 825,000 individual physicians, with 344 docs paid at least $3 million each. Moreover, the payment data showed two doctors--whose combined Medicare earnings in 2012 approached $30 million--have been accused of overbilling and fraud.

He also worked on two proposals that garnered bipartisan opposition in Congress this year, Reuters noted. One proposal aimed to lower 2015 Medicare Advantage payment rates to health insurers while the other would have changed Medicare's Part D program to let insurers limit how many drugs they cover and how many plans they offer consumers.

Instead of lowering rates for Medicare Advantage plans as CMS initially proposed in February, the agency reversed course to give insurers a 0.4 percent boost. The Medicare Advantage payment changes still haven't gained a ton of supporters. Meanwhile, the Obama administration dropped the Medicare Part D proposal last month due to strong opposition.

The Obama administration has been saying goodbye to several top health officials of late. Earlier this month, Kathleen Sebelius--the public face of the botched rollout--stepped down from her post as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. And Gary Cohen, the director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), resigned at the end of the March.

For more:
- read the Reuters article
- here's the WSJ article