One step closer: The Senate Finance Committee approves Tavenner

April 24, 2013 in Medical Technology

The Senate Finance committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Marilyn Tavenner to head the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services. Tavenner, who has been temporarily running CMS for the past two years, now faces a full Senate vote before she can officially assume the CMS Administrator position.

The committee vote follows a vetting hearing on April 9, where Tavenner drew wide bipartisan support. On Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) applauded the committee’s approval for Tavenner.

“We need a strong, effective administrator at CMS to make sure Medicare and Medicaid run effectively and efficiently,” Baucus said.  “Marilyn’s vast experience and thorough understanding of healthcare administration make her the right choice for administrator of CMS. I look forward to working with her as we work to strengthen our healthcare safety net and implement the healthcare law.”

In unrelated news, Baucus, one of the most influential members of the Senate, announced Tuesday, he would retire at the end of his term rather than seek re-election in 2014.

At the April 9 hearing, Baucus said that as administrator, Tavenner must work to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid for the future, combat fraud to protect taxpayer dollars, and have the new health insurance marketplaces ready to launch this fall.

Tavenner began her career in healthcare as a nurse in 1981, steadily rose through the private sector in hospital administration, and served the Commonwealth of Virginia as secretary of health and human resources for four years.  She joined CMS in 2010 as principal deputy administrator – CMS’ second-ranking official – and oversaw policy development and implementation. Tavenner became acting administrator of CMS in 2011 and was re-nominated this year. 

[See also: Tavenner draws wide bipartisan support at senate hearing.]

Jeremy Lazarus, MD, president of the American Medical Association urged the Senate to swiftly confirm Tavenner.

“She has been an effective leader during her tenure as the acting administrator for CMS, and we are extremely pleased that the Senate Finance Committee has voted in favor of her nomination,” Lazarus said.  “CMS has been led by acting administrators for many years, and during this important time for the Medicare and Medicaid programs it is important to have a strong, well-qualified leader who is able to build consensus. Marilyn Tavenner has shown that she is the right person for the job.”


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