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RN Tavenner steps down as head of CMS

The top official at the U.S. agency that oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the development and rollout of HealthCare.gov is stepping down, effective in February. Marilyn Tavenner, BSN, MHA, RN, is resigning as administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to media reports, after two years in the administrator position and five years at the CMS.

The $820 billion federal agency administers Medicare and oversees state Medicaid programs and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which together provide healthcare coverage for some 100 million Americans. In a February 2012 interview with Nurse.com, Tavenner said, “I feel it’s very important to have access to care. “I think prevention is the name of the game. The earlier we get involved, the better the outcomes for the individual. Certainly the Affordable Care Act is trying to do all those [things], so it’s kind of a natural fit for me. There are a lot of things that over time we will learn and we will modify as we go forward, working with Congress.”

According to media reports, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell commented on Tavenner’s pending departure, saying, “Marilyn Tavenner has devoted five years and countless hours to the cause of improving healthcare quality, holding down costs, protecting the Medicare Trust Fund and expanding access to affordable healthcare coverage to millions of Americans. In so doing, she delivered historic results that have impacted countless lives — both today and for decades to come — all for the better.”

Tavenner reportedly is being replaced as administrator on an interim basis by Andrew Slavitt, who has a background in corporate management. In the 2012 Nurse.com article, Tavenner commented on her nursing background, saying, “I think one of the things that is so critical about how nurses view the world,” she said, “is that you are looking at how do you get everybody involved in the process, whether it’s family, whether it’s staff.”

According to a CNBC report, Tavenner emailed CMS staff to express “sadness and mixed emotions” about her departure. “I have great pride and joy knowing all that we have accomplished together since I came on board five years ago in February of 2010,” she said.

A former executive at the Hospital Corporation of America who began her career as a nurse, Tavenner joined CMS in 2010. She was confirmed as head of the agency in May 2013 after serving as principal deputy administrator, and then acting administrator.

During Tavenner’s time at CMS, Medicaid programs were expanded in 27 states and the District of Columbia, according to the CNBC report. “In addition, her work on healthcare quality helped our nation achieve a 17% reduction in hospital-acquired conditions — saving an estimated 50,000 lives and $12 billion in healthcare costs,” Burwell said in the CNBC article. “Marilyn led the effort to accelerate the development and expansion of innovative new healthcare payment and delivery models. And thanks to her efforts, CMS is a government leader in the use of predictive analytics to help combat waste, fraud and abuse. It goes without saying that Marilyn will be remembered for her leadership in opening the Health Insurance Marketplace. In so doing, 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.”

The American Nurses Association expressed its appreciation of Tavenner’s work in a Jan. 16 news release. “As the first permanent administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since 2006, Marilyn Tavenner, MHA, BSN, RN, took the helm of CMS during a time of enormous change in our country’s healthcare system,” ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, said in the release.”Her nursing expertise, along with her public and private sector experience, enabled her to guide the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace. Under Tavenner’s leadership, and despite initial challenges, the Marketplace is now thriving and millions of Americans who were previously uninsured now have access to high quality healthcare. For that, she deserves the highest levels of respect and gratitude.”

Read Nurse.com’s 2012 feature on Tavenner at www.Nurse.com/Article/Tavenner.

By | 2015-01-16T00:00:00-05:00 January 16th, 2015|Categories: National|0 Comments

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