Marilyn Tavenner, BSN, RN, MHA, who left her post as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in February, has taken a position as a major lobbyist for U.S. health insurance companies.
Tavenner, who was confirmed as head of CMS in 2013, will become president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, according to an article in The New York Times. The trade group’s members include Aetna, Anthem, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the newspaper reported.
Tavenner oversaw the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare exchanges and Medicaid expansion as well as the development of new healthcare payment and delivery models, such as accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes. She also addressed cost-reduction and quality improvements in Medicaid and Medicare programs. Tavenner will begin her new role on Aug. 24. She will succeed Karen M. Ignagni, a former health policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, a leader of the industry’s lobbying arm for 22 years.
As administrator for CMS, Tavenner oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the development and rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Tavenner told Nurse.com in March that she believes healthcare reform has been successful, saying this is a good time to leave CMS, as enrollment in the program is up and running. “Part of the reason I left the private sector and went into government work was the issue of access,” she said during the Nurse.com interview. “I watched a lot of individuals face financial ruin and loss of security due to their inability to afford insurance or be able to get insurance in any way. That was my No. 1 goal in being here, and I think that was our No. 1 success.”
Before her government position, Tavenner worked in the private sector at the Hospital Corporation of America, a commercial hospital chain. She also served as the secretary of health and human resources in Virginia. Tavenner’s goals as president of America’s Health Insurance Plans include protecting Medicare Advantage, a program under which private insurers manage care for more than 30% of the 55 million Medicare members and keeping down the cost of prescription drugs, according to the New York Times article.
Although federal conflict-of-interest rules would prevent her from lobbying the Department of Health and Human Services in the remaining months of the Obama administration, Tavenner said she is free to lobby Congress, according to The New York Times.
In the Nurse.com interview, Tavenner stated the top five policy issues all nurses should know about include access to healthcare, delivery system reform and the link between quality and payment. “The fourth and fifth areas — they’re kind of connected — are data and health IT,” she said. “We’re going to see more nurses practicing independently, and as they do so they’re going to fall under the same rules and regulations as physicians, particularly in primary care.”
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