Marilyn Tavenner, the former nurse, hospital executive and Medicare administrator, will succeed Karen Ignagni as the head of America’s Health Insurance Plans, effective Aug. 24, the organization announced Wednesday.
Ignagni is heading to Emblemhealth in New York as CEO after 22 years leading AHIP.
"There is no better individual than Marilyn to lead our industry through the increasingly complex healthcare transformation,” said AHIP Board Chair Mark Ganz, the CEO of Cambia Health Solutions, the parent of the Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield companies.
“Marilyn is a recognized leader who brings the experience, tenacity, and dedication to achieve our advocacy goals and to move the health system forward in a way that is patient-centered,” Ganz continued. “She has the respect and trust of policymakers and stakeholders from all sides, and a personal commitment to advance meaningful solutions for improving access to quality, affordable care for all Americans."
Tavenner started her healthcare career in 1981, when she became a nurse at Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, and started showing promise at the parent company, Hospital Corporation of America. In 1993, Tavenner become CEO of Johnston-Willis Hospital, and in 2001 was named president of HCA’s central Atlantic operations in 2001 and later group president of outpatient services. In 2005, she left HCA to work as Virginia’s Health and Human Resources Secretary, under Democratic Governor Tim Kaine.
Tavenner left that for the job of administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after President Obama’s first appointee, healthcare quality researcher and single payer advocate Donald Berwick, MD, was deemed too radical to get confirmed by the Senate. Tavenner, on the other hand, had lots of political support thanks to public and private sector credentials.
Tavenner’s tenure was marked by the disastrous initial launch of the health insurance exchanges in October 2013. But she also oversaw implementation of other key Affordable Care Act reforms—federal regulation of individual insurance markets, Medicare Advantage rate reductions, Medicare ACOs, hospital quality transparency initiatives, state Medicaid waivers, the provider EHR incentive program (which in some ways may be even more problematic than the Healthcare.gov rollout).
Like Healthcare Finance on Facebook
“Under her watch, the solvency of the Medicare Trust Funds was extended to 2030,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell when Tavenner left the agency this past February. “In addition, her work on healthcare quality helped our nation achieve a 17 percent reduction in hospital acquired conditions, saving an estimated 50,000 lives and $12 billion in healthcare costs.”
Tavenner, for her part, said the work at AHIP will align her previous interests in improving healthcare. She said that one priority will be Medicare Advantage, a highly profitable and growing program that the ACA targeted for savings.
"I am honored to join this association and to lead this industry that is deeply committed to improving care delivery and affordability for individuals and families," Tavenner said.