Marilyn Tavenner was tapped by President Barack Obama to succeed Dr. Donald M. Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Tavenner, who is the agency’s principal deputy administrator, will serve on an acting basis as administrator during the confirmation process, according to an announcement to CMS staff.
Tavenner has played a key role in overseeing Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In remarks to the National Association of Medicaid Directors earlier this month, Tavenner shared her thoughts on how to control health care costs, themes that are very similar to ideas Berwick has expressed repeatedly throughout his tenure.
Analysts predicted that Tavenner would not make major changes to the agency’s daily operations. “She brings continuity in terms of implementing the mission,” said Len Nichols, director of George Mason University’s Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics.
The American Medical Association backed Tavenner in a statement Monday. “We have worked extensively with her in her role as deputy administrator, and she has been fair, knowledgeable and open to dialogue,” AMA President Peter Carmel said in a statement. “With all the changes and challenges facing the Medicare and Medicaid programs, CMS needs stable leadership, and Marilyn Tavenner has the skills and experience to provide it.”
Before coming to CMS, Tavenner served as secretary of Virginia’s Health and Human Services where she oversaw 12 agencies that employed 18,000 people. Her career also included 25 years working for the Hospital Corporation of America where she started as a staff nurse and became president of outpatient services, according to an alumni profile posted on the Virginia Commonwealth University’s web site. She has also previously served as acting CMS administrator.