Marilyn Tavenner, the acting head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was approved to become the agency’s official Administrator on a 91-7 vote on Wednesday night. The vote comes after Ms. Tavenner’s unanimous approval – by voice vote – in the Senate Finance Committee late last month, and after Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) lifted his hold on her appointment because of a dispute with the Obama Administration about funds for preventive health services being diverted to help fund the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The confirmation of Marylin Tavenner to become CMS Administrator ends more than six years – dating back to the Bush Administration – where the CMS has been run by an “acting” head rather than a confirmed administrator to lead the organization that is responsible for overseeing both Medicare and Medicaid.
Ms. Tavenner’s career has taken her from staff nurse to health care executive to government leader. Those who have worked with her have reported her to be a “pragmatic” leader who handles problems with decisiveness while focusing on the needs of patients. Tavenner has stated that her experience as a nurse has taught her to approach a problem by figuring out how to get everyone involved in the process and then moving forward together once a decision is made.
As acting head of CMS, Marylin Tavenner’s leadership helped the home health community resolve a problem with inadequate outlier payments – an issue that NAHC first told CMS about in 2010 – that the acting administrator worked quickly to resolve.