Berwick Out, Tavenner In at CMS
Acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Donald Berwick, MD, MPP, resigned Dec. 2 after failing to garner support for appointment by Congress. Marilyn Tavenner, RN, the associate administrator of CMS, will take his place. She will still need a favorable vote from Congress before becoming the full-fledged administrator of the agency.
Tavenner rose from nursing supervisor to CEO, then to executive with health giant HCA and served as Virginia’s health and human services secretary from 2006 to 2010 before taking her CMS position. Described by colleagues as a pragmatic and skilled administrator, she enjoys a reputation for consensus building. “She’s not a political bomb-thrower. She is not going to be tossing political hand grenades,” Virginia state Senator Edd Houck told HealthLeaders Media. “I keep coming back to the same word, she is so pragmatic in working toward a mutual result that if folks would let that attribute come through they would find that she is a true professional.”
Berwick was nominated in April 2010, but never received a Senate confirmation hearing. Opposition to Berwick’s vision for health care reform is often cited for his failure to advance to a vote. Berwick came to CMS from Harvard’s Institute for Healthcare Improvement, for which he was the president and CEO.