Tavenner faces skepticism on policies, HCA leadership

Although the general reaction from provider groups shows early support for the new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator, Marilyn Tavenner is facing some criticism.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a group of private physicians, released a brief Wednesday, declaring that the "new CMS pick [is] no better than Berwick." Having expressed support for the Affordable Care Act and Berwick's policies, according to the statement, Tavenner is charged with carrying out many of those policies, particularly implementing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

"Scrutiny of Tavenner should be no less intense than of Berwick," said AAPS Executive Director Dr. Jane M. Orient.

The impending scrutiny echoes the anticipated and careful Senate evaluation of Tavenner's experience and political agenda, if any. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) of the Senate Finance Committee last week indicated that any nominee to the powerful federal agency would be carefully scrutinized.

AAPS also pointed to Tavenner's 25-year career at Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), which allegedly defrauded Medicare and Medicaid that resulted in $840 million in fines in 2000 and another $640 million in 2003, according to the statement.

In addition, AAPS said Tavenner during her term as Virginia's secretary of Health & Human Services from 2006 to 2010 allegedly withheld important information from state hospital reports.

"Tavenner has served the largest for-profit operator of medical facilities in the world, and the gubernatorial administration of a strong Obama supporter and rising star in Democrat Party politics," Dr. Orient stated, "neither of which has a sterling record of integrity."

Tavenner's nomination went to the Senate, the White House announced yesterday.

For more information:
- read the AAPS brief
- here's the White House statement

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