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Tavenner takes helm as full-time chief of CMS
June 3rd, 2013
WASHINGTON – For the first time in more than six years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has a permanent leader.
The Senate last month overwhelmingly approved Marilyn Tavenner, President Barack Obama’s nominee, to run the agency, providing the agency with its first confirmed administrator in six and a half years.
The 91-to-7 vote showed broad support for Tavenner, the former Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services, who was endorsed by House Republican leader Eric Cantor.
During a confirmation hearing last month in the House of Representatives, Cantor — a strong opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — said he felt the 61-year-old Tavenner is one of the most capable people to deal with the controversial law and its impact on the American health care system.
“If there is anyone that I trust to try and navigate the challenges [of the ACA], it is Marilyn Tavenner,” Cantor said in recommending the former nurse and hospital executive. “I strongly endorse the confirmation of President Obama’s nomination.”
As CMS administrator Tavenner will play a central role in carrying out major provisions of the new health care law, including the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of marketplaces to sell subsidized private insurance.
CMS provides health insurance to more than 100 million people and spends more than $800 billion a year, a sum that tops the Defense Department budget.
Fierce disagreements over health policy in the past few years have made confirmation difficult for those nominated to head CMS. Tavenner is the first confirmed administrator since Dr. Mark McClellan stepped down in October 2006.
Tavenner has held the top job at the Medicare agency on an acting basis since December 2011.
Health care advocates say they are excited about Tavenner’s confirmation, noting that they feel she will work diligently to provide better patient care and reduce the nation’s health care costs.
“Given her background on the front lines of health care delivery, we trust that she will look for opportunities to leverage the strengths of community pharmacies in helping patients use medicines safely and stay healthy, and to tap into the innovative pharmacy services that do even more to improve patient health and quality of life,” National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson says.