Obama re-nominates Tavenner to lead CMS
President Barack Obama re-nominated Marilyn Tavenner on Thursday to be permanent administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She has been serving as acting administrator since December 2011, when Donald Berwick, MD, stepped down.
If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first permanent CMS administrator in seven years. Tavenner is the former Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources under then Gov. Tim Kaine and served as principal deputy administrator of CMS under Berwick.
[See also: Berwick to step down at CMS, Obama nominates Tavenner .]
The Senate did not take up Tavenner’s nomination in committee the first time that Obama named her because of sharp political divisions over the administration’s health reform law.
CMS operates programs, such as Medicare for seniors and Medicaid, in partnership with states, for low-income households. Both programs have critical roles in the realization of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and are lightning rods in talks about federal spending cuts.
Tavenner, a nurse and public health advocate, manages the $820 billion federal agency, which ensures healthcare coverage for 100 million Americans, with 10 regional offices and more than 4,000 employees nationwide.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, she also oversees the insurance reforms and health insurance exchange marketplaces included in the law.
Members of the healthcare community have already begun voicing their support of Tavenner’s nomination.
Yesterday, the American Medical Association (AMA urged the Senate to confirm her as permanent CMS administrator.
"As the acting administrator for CMS, she has proven to be an effective, thoughtful leader. She actively seeks input and considers various sides of an issue, making sure all stakeholders have an opportunity to be heard during decision-making processes," said Jeremy Lazarus, MD, AMA president, in a statement.
"This is an important time for our Medicare and Medicaid programs, and the AMA believes Marilyn Tavenner is the right person to lead CMS through the work of ensuring patients have access to high quality care, and we achieve needed cost savings," he added.
"The track record of the agency—and of Ms. Tavenner’s leadership—over the past year are the best argument for her confirmation as administrator,” said Margaret Murray, CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP), in a statement. “Her steady, able leadership is exactly what the agency—and health care stakeholders—need going forward. … We call upon the Senate to confirm her nomination as quickly as possible and practical," she added.