Tavenner draws wide bipartisan support at Senate confirmation hearing
April 10, 2013 in Medical Technology
Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, received accolades from both sides of the aisle at a hearing on Tuesday to consider her nomination to head CMS. Senate Finance Committee leaders indicated a decision would come soon.
Tavenner, who has been running CMS for more than a year on a temporary basis, was at last called in for a Senate Finance Committee vetting after being nominated twice for the position by President Obama.
Tavenner’s background as a nurse was one of the many attributes the Senators praised, as they took turns questioning her and voicing their support.
To start off the meeting, in a somewhat unprecedented move, congressmen not on the Senate Finance Committee, appeared before the Committee to testify on her behalf — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)—all of whom had worked with her in her home state of Virginia.
“She’s the real deal,” Kaine said, making mention of her rural background and deep concern for patient care.
Cantor called her “a force to be reckoned with,” and someone “who speaks on behalf of patients.”
“I don’t think it’s any secret that I differ with the Obama Administration when it comes to healthcare policy,” Cantor said. “But, if there’s anyone I trust (to run CMS), it is Marilyn Tavenner.”
Though every Senator who questioned her offered their desire to see her confirmed, the hearing was not without warnings, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the committee said, “There will be a lot of people watching you, including myself.”
“The head of CMS has a great responsibility,” he said. “CMS administers health coverage to roughly one in three Americans. This includes 50 million Medicare patients, 56 million Medicaid patients and more than 5.5 million children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”
Baucus said, if confirmed, Tavenner should remember she works for the American people and must demand from her employees at CMS “the utmost efficiency.”
Tavenner, who spent some of her career as a hospital administrator, was on the same page. “While it is important to have a vision for the agency, we have an $820 billion-dollar business to run.”
She said her management style centers “a lot around listening,” and that was evident as most senators on the committee thanked her for her personal visits to their offices to discuss healthcare issues.