Tavenner to Step Down as Administrator End of February

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner plans to step down from her post at the end of February 2015, according to an email from Tavenner to her staff, in which she highlighted the accomplishments of CMS in bringing improvements to quality and cost of care, fraud and abuse control, access to health care services, and agency operations. Tavenner, who played a key role in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148), particularly the development of HealthCare.gov, will be temporarily replaced by second-ranking official Andrew Slavitt.

“The role of this agency has evolved over the years through both the leadership of many great previous Administrators, and also the legislative challenges put forth by Congress,” Tavenner said in her email. “CMS has always been ‘the biggest payer of healthcare services in the United States’ and that in and of itself is a huge and complex responsibility for any Administrator and his or her team to manage.”

HealthCare.gov Problems

In October 2013, Tavenner acknowledged the difficulties faced by those attempting to enroll for health insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov in a hearing on the implementation of the ACA before the House Committee on Ways and Means. She further addressed the lessons learned from the first open enrollment period in a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In her email, Tavenner noted, “Now in our second open enrolment period we have much to be proud of,” with almost 6.8 million consumers having selected a plan through the federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Marilyn will be remembered for her leadership in opening the health insurance marketplace,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “In doing so, she worked day and night so that millions of Americans could finally obtain the security and peace of mind of quality health insurance at a price they could afford.” She further noted, “It’s a measure of her tenacity and dedication that after the tough initial rollout of HealthCare.gov, she helped right the ship.”

Noted Accomplishments

“[W]ith the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010, we had many additional challenges put before us to look at ways to improve quality, reduce costs, eliminate fraud, increase transparency, and provide access to millions more of our fellow Americans,” Tavenner said. She highlighted a 17 percent reduction in patient harm nationally, representing 50,000 lives saved and savings of $12 billion. Additionally, new Medicare provider screening standards and provider enrollment moratoria helped to remove more than 350,000 sub-standard providers from Medicare.

Tavenner’s Career

Tavenner was confirmed as CMS administrator by the Senate in May 2013, following her service as a senior official of the $820 billion agency. Prior to joining CMS, she served as the secretary of health and human resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia and, prior to that, as the chief executive officer and the group president of outpatient services for the Hospital Corporation of America.