Tavenner Confirmed as CMS Administrator

By: Jennifer Webster
Thursday, May 16, 2013

U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle voted for Marilyn Tavenner’s confirmation as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), with a tally of 91–7. Tavenner is the first CMS administrator to hold the office in seven years, since President George W. Bush appointee Mark McClellan held the post.

From her beginnings as a nurse, Tavenner culminated her career in the private sector as Hospital Corporation of America’s group president for outpatient services before moving to public life, where she served four years as Virginia’s Health and Human Resources secretary.

Her new position will involve her in many contentious areas, as CMS is tasked with implementing the Affordable Care Act, launching federal health insurance marketplaces, and overseeing initiatives against Medicare and Medicaid fraud. In addition, CMS’ main task is funding and guiding Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance plans.

During an April 9, 2013, Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing, Tavenner outlined her three main goals for the agency moving forward: successfully implementing health care reform law, minimizing the cost of care and operating CMS as a business.

“While it is important to have a vision for the agency, we have an $820 billion dollar [sic] business to run that a large amount of this country has a stake in, from beneficiaries to providers to hospitals to insurance companies to Congress to the administration to our CMS employees and contractors,” Tavenner told senators. “Therefore, I consider it essential to my leadership role at CMS to be a partner to all of those stakeholders.”

In announcing the results of the confirmation vote, Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, stated, “Marilyn brings with her a breadth of experience and expertise from virtually all angles of health care policy and delivery.”