The Senate has confirmed Marilyn Tavenner as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Marilyn Tavenner, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, CMS administrator, Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, Barack Obama, Senate, Medicare, Medicaid, Steve Anderson, NACDS, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, pharmacy reimbursement, community pharmacies, pharmacy services, health care, health care reform, Affordable Care Act

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Tavenner confirmed as CMS administrator

May 16th, 2013

WASHINGTON – The Senate has confirmed Marilyn Tavenner as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Marilyn Tavenner

Tavenner, who was nominated to the post in February by President Barack Obama, was confirmed by the Senate Wednesday in a 91-7 vote. She had been CMS' acting administrator since the December 2011 resignation of Dr. Donald Berwick.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said Tavenner is the first CMS administrator to be confirmed in over nine years.

"I'm pleased to announce that the Senate voted today to confirm Marilyn Tavenner as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services," Sebelius said in a statement Wednesday. "Marilyn brings with her a breadth of experience and expertise from virtually all angles of health care policy and delivery, having served as a hospital CEO, a state health official and a registered nurse. Marilyn will serve in a critical role at CMS as we work to improve the health care for hundreds of millions of Americans."

Before being named acting CMS administrator, Tavenner had served as the HHS agency's principal deputy administrator. Prior to joining CMS, she was the state of Virginia's secretary of health and human resources for four years.

In addition, Tavenner spent 25 years working for the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). She began working as a nurse at the Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Va., in 1981 and rose through the company to become the hospital's chief executive officer and, by 2001, had assumed oversight of 20 hospitals as president of HCA's Central Atlantic Division. She finished her service to HCA in 2005 as group president of outpatient services, where she spearheaded the development of a national strategy for freestanding outpatient services, including physician recruitment and real estate development, according to HHS.

Besides managing CMS, which administers Medicare and provides funds and guidance for state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance (CHIP) programs, Tavenner will also steer the agency as it implements the insurance reforms and Health Insurance Marketplaces included in the Affordable Care Act health reform law.

On Thursday, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores welcomed Tavenner's elevation to CMS administrator and pointed to her years of health care knowledge and experience.

"Often, much is said about a nominee's qualifications for a leadership position such as the administrator of CMS. Marilyn Tavenner absolutely brings exceptional qualifications. And I go further to say that her life story is a testament to the genuine care and dedication to patients that must drive the improvement of health care delivery in the United States," NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said in a statement. "As a nurse, as a CEO, as Virginia's secretary of health and human services, and in heading CMS in an 'acting' capacity, Marilyn Tavenner has distinguished herself as a true servant leader, on issues for which nothing less than true servant leadership will suffice. Her Senate confirmation vote is a tribute to her impeccable reputation, as well as to the bipartisan approach of U.S. Senate members in evaluating and advancing her nomination."

For the chain drug industry, key issues in Medicare and Medicaid have included pharmacy reimbursement for prescription drugs and durable medical equipment as well as fostering the use of such services as medication therapy management (MTM) for Medicare beneficiaries.

"Community pharmacies, which serve as the face of neighborhood health care, look forward to working with Marilyn Tavenner and her colleagues at CMS to help improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care," Anderson stated. "Given her background on the front lines of health care delivery, we trust that she will look for opportunities to leverage the strengths of community pharmacies in helping patients use medicines safely and stay healthy, and to tap into the innovative pharmacy services that do even more to improve patient health and quality of life."

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