Providers cheer Tavenner as new CMS administrator

Early reactions from providers show support for the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). With Dr. Donald Berwick's pre-Thanksgiving resignation from his post, Marilyn Tavenner, with the Obama administration's nomination, will be taking helm of the regulatory agency and thereby health reform. With comparisons between Taveneer and the preceding Berwick, news outlets have focused on Taveneer's "fair" and "practical" approach. Thus far, provider groups have reacted kindly to the nomination.

American Hospital Association (AHA): Highlighting her extensive career, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock called Tavenner "a very capable administrator." "Her varied and rich background as a former nurse, health care executive, and government official at the state level gives her a very unique perspective in understanding both the implications of public policy and their implementation," he said in a statement last week. "We have no doubt that she will provide strong leadership in these challenging times."

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC): Similarly, AAMC applauded Tavenner's background, calling her an "excellent choice" for the role. "Through her career as a nurse, hospital administrator, and Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, she has real-world understanding of the vital role that America's teaching hospitals play in the nation's health care system," AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch said in a statement last week.

American Medical Association (AMA): Calling Tavenner "fair, knowledgeable and open to dialogue," AMA President Dr. Peter Camel said AMA supports her nomination. "With all the changes and challenges facing the Medicare and Medicaid programs, CMS needs stable leadership, and Marilyn Tavenner has the skills and experience to provide it," he said in a press release Monday.

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP): President and CEO Karen Ignagni echoed the provider reaction and said, "Marilyn Tavenner's proven leadership ability and wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors are invaluable assets to CMS as it seeks to address the many health care challenges facing the nation."

American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP): ACEP President Dr. David Seaberg said in a statement today, "On behalf of the nation's emergency physicians, I applaud Ms. Tavenner's nomination to head up CMS and urge the Senate to confirm her appointment. We look forward to working with her to shore up our emergency care system and to ensure that our patients have access to emergency care whenever and wherever they need it."

Meanwhile, political pundits have questioned whether the cheers for Tavenner will last long and if the jeers from Republicans will follow. Some Republicans voiced opposition to Berwick as CMS administrator. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, last week suggested Tavenner would face the watchful eye of the Senate, although he did not express opposition to her nomination, The Hill's Healthwatch reports. "Any nominee to a federal agency with this much power and authority over the lives of millions of Americans must be carefully scrutinized," Hatch said. "Republicans on the Finance Committee look forward to examining her record..." he said.

For more information:
- read the AHA statement
- here's the AAMC press release
- here's the AMA statement
- see the AHIP statement
- here's the ACEP statement
- read The Hill's Healthwatch blog post
- here's the statement from Sen. Hatch

Related Articles:
Who is new CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner?
Don Berwick resigns after Senate blocks his confirmation
Berwick's resignation from CMS bad news for health IT