President Obama nominated Marilyn Tavenner to run one of the biggest agencies in the federal government today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). If it were anyone else it might be a big deal, however, Ms. Tavenner has been running the department for more than two years as the acting Deputy.
If recent history is any indication, the nomination won’t matter.
Not that being the head of CMS isn’t a big deal. It is. The agency has a massive budget that dwarfs the DOD, oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Plus, the agency is the tip of the sword on Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.
Tavenner’s nomination is of little consequence because she already has the job. She’s been running the agency since December 2011 after Donald Berwick, M.D., quit the post. It’s not likely a Senate confirmation hearing will be held to confirm Tavnner. After all, the Senate hasn’t bothered to vote on a CMS nominee since Mark McClellan left the agency all the way back in October 2006. For more information on why this important agency hasn’t had a confirmed leader for over six years and why that matters, read this article from Politico.
Marilyn Tavenner served as Principal Deputy Administrator of CMS since February 2010 and as Acting Administrator of CMS from February to July 2010. Previously, Ms. Tavenner served as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources in the administration of former Governor Tim Kaine. Ms. Tavenner also spent nearly 35 years working with health care providers including almost 20 years in nursing, three years as a hospital CEO and 10 years in various senior executive level positions for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). She has served as a board member of the American Hospital Association and as president of the Virginia Hospital Association. Ms. Tavenner holds a B.S. in nursing and an M.A. in health administration, both from the Virginia Commonwealth University.