Tavenner Leaving CMS to be Replaced by Optum Exec
Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), is resigning and will be replaced by Andy Slavitt, a former Optum executive, according to several sources.
Tavenner, the former health secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia, joined the agency five years ago. She directed CMS during the roughest waters of Obamacare and ICD-10 implementation. After starting her career as a nurse, she rose to executive positions in private hospitals. She succeeded the controversial Don Berwick, who was never confirmed by the Senate.
Slavitt, who was tapped by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell last June to handle day-to-day CMS operations, will serve as acting administrator until confirmed by the Senate. During his time at Optum, the company helped at least four states and the federal government with Obamacare health exchanges, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune said Slavitt was the group executive vice president at Optum, which is a division of UnitedHealth Group. He led the systems integration work and technology surge to fix the federal health insurance online shopping site, healthcare.gov, last year. He came to the nation’s largest insurer, in 2003, after UnitedHealth acquired Health Allies, which Slavitt founded and ran. Slavitt also has worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs.
While a lightning rod for criticism of Obamacare’s roll-out, Tavenner did receive praise from the senior Republican senator. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) praised her in a statement released just minutes after her announcement. “Marilyn has done a great job in a very difficult position under near impossible circumstances. She has proven herself to be a strong leader and a straight-shooter who brought in much needed private sector sensibility into the agency,” he wrote.
Tavenner’s chief of staff, Aryana Khalid, also announced her resignation. Her deputy administrator, Cindy Mann, resigned in December.