WASHINGTON (TIP): PresidentBarack Obama on Feb 6 renominatedone of his top healthcare advisers tolead the federal agency responsible foroverseeing Medicare, Medicaid andthe implementation of his healthcarereform law.If confirmed by the Senate, MarilynTavenner would become the firstofficial head of the US Centers forMedicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) since 2006.
She currently leadsthe same agency as actingadministrator.As part of the US department ofhealth and human services, CMS runsthe Medicare and Medicaid healthcareprograms that serve about 100 millionelderly, disabled and low-incomepeople at a cost estimated at $885billion for this year. Both programsare at the center of a looming debatein Congress over how to reduce thefederal deficit.If confirmed as agency chief,Tavenner would also exercise officialauthority over the biggest expansionof healthcare coverage in more than ageneration under Obama’s PatientProtection and Affordable Care Act,which is expected to extend coverageto 38 million people over the next 10years.
CMS has been a target ofRepublican opposition to Obama’shealthcare policies since early in hispresidency. Tavenner, a nurse andformer hospital executive, becameacting administrator in late 2011 andwas nominated to lead the agency. Butthe Senate never acted on hernomination. Her predecessor,healthcare reform expert DonaldBerwick, had assumed the job througha temporary appointment in July 2010but left after less than 18 months whenSenate Republicans made it clear thatthey would not allow his nomination.
Tavenner has won praise from someRepublicans, including HouseMajority Leader Eric Cantor, andenjoys strong support amonghealthcare industry groups andconsumer advocates.