CMS assigns second-in-command despite lack of a leader, plans realignment

While President Obama still has yet to nominate anybody for the vacant position of administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the organization already has assigned the job of second-in-command to a former Virginia health official. CMS also plans a three-pronged structural realignment--its first reorganization in roughly 10 years--focusing on beneficiary services, program integrity and strategic planning, according to The Hill's Blog Briefing Room.

In an email to CMS staff Tuesday from Charlene Frizzera, the agency's acting administrator, employees learned that Marilyn Tavenner, a former executive at the Hospital Corporation of American who also served as the secretary of Health and Human Resources in Virginia until earlier this year, joined CMS as a principal deputy administrator. The position is one created through the structural realignment, and will be the second-highest post in the agency. Frizzera said she will stay on as acting administrator and chief operating officer.

The realignment also creates an Office of External Affairs and Beneficiary Services, a combination of existing departments, and reorganizes the three centers that oversee Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. There now will be four centers for these programs:

  • The Center for Medicare, which combines Medicare fee-for-service, managed care, and the prescription drug benefit.
  • The Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey and Certification, which is the former Center for Medicaid and State Operations.
  • The Center for Program Integrity, which realigns the (Medicare) Program Integrity Group of the Office of Financial Management and the Medicaid Integrity Group of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations.
  • The Center for Strategic Planning, which realigns the Office of Research, Development, and Information and the Office of Policy.

Frizzera said that the realignment will become reality when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius approves the proposal, which she expects to occur within 60 days.

To learn more:
- read The Hill's report on the realignment (text of the CMS email included at the bottom)