Tavenner Confirmed as CMS Administrator

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , May 16, 2013

Long-time friend Tom Scully, who headed CMS from 2001 to 2004, isn't surprised by the broad Tavenner support on both sides of the aisle. "She's done a good job. She responded to requests and concerns. She personally defanged the opposition. They may not like Obama or his healthcare policy, but they like her," Scully told HealthLeaders Media in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The only blip in the process came in late April when Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) placed a hold on Tavenner's nomination in response to a White House plan to strip $332 million in funding from the prevention and public health fund and redirect the money to other aspects of the PPACA.

Harkin withdrew the hold in early May. In a speech before the Senate, he stated that the "White House has made it clear that it will not reverse its course with regard to its raid on the prevention fund…I believe Ms. Tavenner is strongly qualified to be the next CMA administrator…"

In his final comments before the Senate vote, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) noted that CMS has operated without a confirmed administrator for several years. "We need a confirmed administrator at CMS to properly implement the important programs we created in the Affordable Care Act…In just a few months, the healthcare marketplaces will be open for enrollment, and tax credits and subsidies will be available to help families and small businesses pay for healthcare. This is a critical time to have someone with Ms. Tavenner's experience confirmed and in charge at CMS. As administrator, she will have to make sure these programs are ready to go on day one. She will need to ensure the healthcare law's programs work for the people they are intended to serve. I believe she can, and I believe she will."

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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