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Tavenner, RN, renominated to lead Medicare, Medicaid

Sunday February 10, 2013
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President Obama has renominated onetime staff nurse Marilyn Tavenner, RN, BSN, MHA, to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Tavenner has been acting administrator of CMS since December 2011, when Donald Berwick, MD, stepped down from the position. The 2011-12 Senate never got around to holding confirmation hearings, and it is unclear when the current Senate might do so. Any nomination process relating to healthcare is politically charged in the current climate.

As CMS administrator (whether confirmed or acting), Tavenner will have much to do in the coming months. Full rollout of the Affordable Care Act takes place in early 2014 and includes a significant expansion of Medicaid eligibility. Medicare is attempting through various measures to transform its provider payment system from fee-for-service to one that reflects care quality and coordination.

"Marilyn is more than prepared to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency that touches the lives of every American through the Medicare, Medicaid and childrenís health insurance programs, promotes quality standards and develops policy innovations intended to expand patient access to high-quality healthcare," American Nurses Association President Karen A. Daley, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in a news release.

"We at ANA believe that her expertise and experience will provide CMS with the leadership needed to guide our healthcare system during this time of great change. We urge a swift confirmation process so that CMS can continue to work to improve the healthcare of individuals and families nationwide."

Tavenner, 61, began her medical career as an ICU nurse in Virginia, including at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, after earning her BSN from Virginia Commonwealth University. She spent most of her time in nursing practice working for the Hospital Corporation of America. She steadily rose through the ranks of the company, working as a nurse supervisor and in other supervisory roles, and in 1993 became CEO of Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond.

By 2004, she was president of outpatient services for the company at the national level. In 2006, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine appointed Tavenner the stateís secretary of health and human resources. In that position she oversaw 12 agencies that employed more than 18,000 people, including the departments of Health, Mental Health, Social Services, Health Professionals and Medical Assistance Services.

From there, Tavenner moved to CMS and was acting administrator from February 2010 until Berwickís recess appointment in July 2010. She was principal deputy administrator and chief operating officer until Berwick stepped down 17 months later.

The American Medical Association "strongly supports" Tavennerís nomination, AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, said in a news release. "As the acting administrator for CMS, she has proven to be an effective, thoughtful leader. She actively seeks input and considers various sides of an issue, making sure all stakeholders have an opportunity to be heard during decision-making processes."


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